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One-third of Saudi citizens ready for business ties with Israel, even without peace

Guarantee for Muslim rights on Temple Mount seen as top reason for normalization, according to Washington Institute poll

Shaking hands with Saudi and Israeli flags in the background (Photo: Shutterstock)

Roughly one-third of Saudi Arabian citizens would approve of cooperation with Israeli technology companies as an initial step toward normalization with the Jewish state, according to a study published by the Washington Institute on Sept. 18.

The participants of the study were asked to express their degree of support for potential unilateral steps the kingdom could take toward normalizing relations with Israel.

The study comes amid a concerted effort by the United States, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the State of Israel to reach a tripartite deal that would involve defense guarantees from the U.S. and a civilian nuclear program for Saudi Arabia in exchange for diplomatic relations with Israel.

While an increase in business ties received some support, other steps proved very unpopular.

For example, permitting Israeli planes to fly over Saudi Arabia, a policy currently in effect, was “strongly opposed” by 53%, with another 31% being “somewhat” opposed.

Allowing Jewish or Christian tourists to hold prayer meetings in designated spaces also received little support, with 78% opposing “strongly” and another 18% responding with “somewhat.”

The study further asked respondents what they believed to be relevant factors “in considering whether or not Saudi Arabia should establish official relations with Israel.”

Almost half (46%) of the respondents considered it “very” or “somewhat” important that Israel guarantee the prayer rights for all Muslims, not only Saudis, at the Muslim sites on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

Conversely, the Palestinian issue seems to be rather low on the agenda of Saudi citizens. Only 36% said the believe it is important to carry out “steps toward political rights and better economic opportunities for the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.”

This response may be the result of a reportedly low public opinion of Palestinian leadership by the Saudi Kingdom.

According to the Washington Institute poll, only 15% of Saudis hold an even “somewhat positive” view of the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah, while even fewer (10%) expressed a favorable view of the Hamas terror organization in the Gaza Strip.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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