Daily TIP

The Daily TIP: Saudi media softens tone on Israel, indicative of improving Saudi-Israeli relations

Posted by Tip Staff - August 31, 2016


 

Local and state-run media outlets in Saudi Arabia are beginning to shift their long-held position of enmity towards Israel, according to an article in The Jerusalem Post. Recent changes include quoting Israeli officials; asking Saudis to “leave behind” their “hatred of Jews”; and calling for direct talks between Israel and Saudi Arabia, free from intermediaries.David Pollock of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy branded the pivot as “the new normal,” saying that while pragmatic, behind-the-scenes dialogue between Israel and Arab countries is “nothing new,” the presence of two sides in public forums marks an undeniable turning point. “What is noteworthy today is that the issue is being actively and openly debated in major Arab media, with both proponents and opponents each having their say.”
Change has been slow but persistent. Anwar Eshki, a former general who has served in senior positions in the Saudi military and foreign ministry, visited Israel last month as part of a delegation of Saudi academics and businessmen. Israeli Foreign Ministry Director-General Dore Gold gave an interview last year with a Saudi website, and Israel’s ambassador to Washington Ron Dermer was likewise recently interviewed by the Saudi media. Gold and Eshki brought the Israeli-Saudi relationship to the forefront when they publicly shook hands. In addition to improving relations with Saudi Arabia, Israel has also experienced a warming of ties with Egypt and a reconciliation with Turkey in recent months.

 

Germany on Tuesday reiterated its refusal to normalize relations with Iran until the Islamic Republic recognizes Israel, Benjamin Weinthal reported in The Jerusalem Post“There cannot be normalized, complete relations with Iran so long as Iran does not recognize Israel’s right to exist,” Chancellor Angela Merkel’s administration said in a letter to German parliamentarian Volker Beck, the head of the German-Israeli Parliamentary Friendship Group. “At the same time, the federal government has an interest in dialogue with Iran’s government over critical topics,” it added.The letter, written in response to a July parliamentary inquiry, also highlighted Iran’s extensive record of human rights abuses and threatening rhetoric toward Israel.
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Economic Minister Sigmar Gabriel are seeking to invite Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to Berlin later this year, according to a recent report in the German newspaper Bild-Zeitung. Beck, a member of the Green Party, consequently warned Merkel not to become involved in false normalization with the Islamic Republic.
“Critics see Germany as sending mixed messages to the Jewish state” regarding Iran, Weinthal wrote. Despite Berlin’s demand that Iran recognize Israel, Gabriel was among the first western politicians to visit Iran when it reached a nuclear deal with world powers last July. Germany also hosted Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif this past June.
In the letter to Beck, the German government conveyed that it told Iran that it should recognize Israel and condemned the regime’s “rocket tests and anti-Israel threats.” Berlin also expressed concern that the hope that Rouhani’s administration would improve human rights domestically “has until now not been fulfilled.” The government specifically noted the high level of executions in Iran and its continued imposition of the death penalty for homosexuality.
Despite its promise not to normalize relations with Iran, German exports to Iran increased to 1.13 billion euros in the first half of 2016, a 15 percent jump compared to the same period the previous year, according to Germany’s Federal Statistics Office.
Beck did not seem mollified by the letter, telling Weinthal that it is apparent to “everyone in government circles that a high-level state visit from Iran is approaching and the only apparent question is whether at the banquet wine will be allowed. I don’t understand why the federal government remains silent about the visit plans and won’t answer simple questions.” (via TheTower.org)

 
Israel’s Agriculture Minister has said Israel will soon begin exporting medical marijuana abroad, according to a report in the online Hebrew-language magazine Cannabis“In two years we will have protocols in place that will allow farmers to grow cannabis,” Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel told Israel Radio, according to the report. According to the article, Ariel plans to approve the appeal for exporting Israeli-grown medical marijuana. In June, the government approved a plan to ease restrictions on growing medical marijuana in Israel. Ariel said the Agriculture Ministry has set up specific areas for the research and trial of growing cannabis. Israel is known for its progressive regulations with helping scientists’research cannabis and clinically test its efficacy against myriad illnesses. “The minute there will be exports, it means that the number of growers and quantity of cannabis to be produced in Israel can be enlarged greatly,” Dr. Nirit Bernstein, a senior research scientist at the Agricultural Research Organization’s Volcani Center, told The Jerusalem Post. “Instead of growing peppers in the Arava, people will grow cannabis – that’s the dream, the dream of many growers now.” Bernstein also said that the idea of exporting cannabis is generating a lot of interest among prospective farmers in Israel. (via Israel21c)

 


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