President Donald Trump’s non-stop flight from Riyadh to Tel Aviv is being described as the first ever non-stop flight between Saudi Arabia and Israel.
That the Saudis allowed this direct flight, usually banned, reflects the fact that the relationship between Israel and Saudi Arabia, like that of Israel with a number of Gulf states, has been quietly but perceptibly thawing in recent years. This thaw reflects the growing convergence between Israel and the Sunni states of the Arab world, all who share a view that Iran is the biggest threat to their security and regional stability.
Matching that convergence was the message conveyed by President Trump, first in Saudi Arabia and then in Israel, of a geo-strategic shift in U.S. policy. It was just one year ago that then-President Obama, seeking a modus vivendi with Tehran, said that America’s Gulf allies need to “share the Middle East” with the Iranians. That view of the Middle East was decisively repudiated this week, with Trump clearly aligning the United States with the majority of the Sunni Arab world, and Israel, against Iran.