Route of AI139 passenger flight from New Delhi to Tel Aiv
March 22, 2019
WHAT IS GOD DOING IN RELATIONS BETWEEN SAUDI ARABIA AND ISRAEL?
From the evening of her re-birth 70 years ago, Israel, has been always keenly aware and wary of the vast desert kingdom spreading southeastward from her western neighbor Jordan. Six months previous, Saudi Arabia had cast their vote against the UN Partition Plan paving the way for the birth of the Jewish State. Now, hours after Israel’s Declaration of Independence, as five Arab armies began their invasion to stamp out the new state, allied under the Egyptian army was a mass of soldiers sent from the Arabian Peninsula. Twenty-five years later, the Saudis would again send troops to support Egypt in the 1973 War. Afterwards, although there have been no further military overtures, Saudi Arabia has continued to be seen as an enemy nation, one with a hatred for Israel and Jews (By law, no Jew is allowed to live in the Kingdom). They have never opened diplomatic relations with Israel. It was with uneasiness that Israel witnessed in 2010 the US sale of $60 billion worth of F-15 fighters, attack helicopters and advanced munitions to this unfriendly nation – some of whose borders lie only minutes by air from our capital. For 70 years no Israeli passenger planes have been allowed over Saudi airspace (When, some years ago, the authors traveled to Thailand, our plane was forced to fly southwards along the Arava through the Gulf of Aqaba, then down the length of the Red Sea—with enemy state Sudan to the west, Saudi Arabia to the East— on southward to just before the Horn of Africa, where we finally made a sharp left turn eastwards out over the Arabian Sea towards India.
In recent years, there have been signs that this official stance of hostility may be, at some levels anyway, beginning cautiously to change. The Saudis came out with a “peace plan” related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. More recently, rumors began to surface of secret communications between the two countries. When the newly-elected President Trump made his maiden trip abroad last May, his first stop was to Saudi Arabia—from there his plane made one of the few flights ever allowed from Arabia to Israel. With the remarkable reforms which appear to be attending the rise of Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman Al Saud, an unprecedented warming of relations with Israel has begun to be spoken of as a legitimate possibility (PM Netanyahu recently spoke of Israeli relations with the Arab world—obviously including Saudi Arabia—as “best ever.” As of this week, the flights from India over the Arabian peninsula will continue three times a week.
Then this past Thursday night, history was made. For the first time in Israel’s 70 year history, a passenger plane from another country was allowed to travel the length of the Arabian Peninsula (see map above) en route to Tel Aviv. The Air India Boeing 787 from New Delhi touched down at Ben Gurion Airport at 10:15 p.m. Israeli Transport Minister Yisrael Katz described the occasion as “the first time that there is an official connection between the state of Israel and Saudi Arabia.” Of its enormous significance, one Israeli analyst observed that even in the absence of an Israeli-Palestinian peace treaty (considered for years a prerequisite for relations between Israel and the Arab world), “this shows you can have small gestures that are of real meaning.” 1)
The most generally held explanation for this thaw in relations is that the Sunni Saudi government is eyeing the expansion of its Shi’ite arch-enemy Iran and its nearness to acquisition of nuclear weapons, and is therefore open to (at least temporarily) making an alliance with the Israelis, whom the Iranian Ayatolla’s have repeatedly vowed to annihilate. While not discounting this as a factor, we sense it is essential that we seek the Lord as to what He—Lord of the Nations—is doing. Of course there is war in the heavenlies, with evil powers and principalities over nations at war against the decrees of the Elyon—the Most High—on behalf of His redemptive purposes on the earth.
We believe that through the present year a season of grace is being extended in which nations are being granted opportunity for making choices as related to their alignments with God’s purposes in His covenant land and people Israel. How they choose will significantly determine their pathway in the season ahead—whether for blessing and awakening or for darkness and great deception and delusion. During this year, there will be nations whose past histories would have indicated them to be last in embracing Israel, which will turn towards here—others with reputations as friendly will turn away.
During this window of opportunity, the determined efforts of intercessors, though small in number, may have great influence in swaying the stance of their leaders towards that which is good. It is remarkable that we see the leadership of Egypt, with whom Arabia allied strongly in both the 1948 and 1973 wars against Israel, slowly but steadily engaging in more friendly relations with her. We believe this is being surely facilitated through the prayers of millions of Christian believers and the many houses of prayer in that land who love and are praying fervently towards the fulfillment of the Isaiah 19 “Highway” which God says will connect “Egypt My people” with “Israel My inheritance.” If God has such plans for Egypt, where His people suffered bondage for 400 years, might He not also have redemptive plans for the Arabian Peninsula, where it is appears that these same Children of Israel may have wandered for 40 years in the desert? (In fact, in the opinion of a growing number of Biblical scholars, many factors point towards the very Mountain where the LORD came down and spoke with Moses as lying, not in the “Sinai Peninsula,” but in that area of Midian on the “back side” (i.e. the Arabian side) of the Gulf of Aqaba). Might not this area of the world in which the delusion of Islam arose—a delusion which holds vast throngs of people throughout the nations in a bondage not unlike that typified by Egypt before the Exodus—might not this area where His manifest presence once moved among His people Israel be one in which the God of Salvation longs to begin releasing freedom to captivities from evil—even from its very source? Perhaps this itself sounds delusional. But God, whose greatness will dwell in Jerusalem, is beginning to shake things—“Let the peoples tremble…let the earth shake, YHWH is great in Zion, He is exalted above ALL peoples…They SHALL praise Your great and awesome name: Holy is He!” (Psalm 99:1-3). This includes those in captivity to darkness in Saudi Arabia! Some of the Body of Messiah in Israel is using the shifts we sense occuring to stir us to pray for His life and blessing to spread over this great enemy from our past. After all, a part of our call, from the beginning, has been that through the seed of Abraham, every family and nation will find blessing! (Genesis 12:3; 22:18). Will you join with us!
* That the Spirit which is drawing a new generation in Saudi Arabia towards regarding Israel with favour, will increase.—that the leaders there would respond positively to this Spirit.
* That the “true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every human being” (John 1:9), will illumine hearts of Muslims throughout the Arabian Peninsula to the truth that Issa-Yasuah-Yeshua-Jesus who was born in Bethlehem is the divine Son of God and saviour of the World (We personally have heard testimonies of former Muslims who were illumined by this Light while on the Haj in Mecca itself!).
* For Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman Al Saud, that He will be protected in mind and body; that the Power which has already been at work in him towards releasing freedoms towards women, and other areas of his society which have for centuries lain in unjust bondage and oppression, that this Power will reveal itself in a personal way.
* For Israel’s leaders, to regard the initiatives in Saudi Arabia with wisdom, discernment and grace. That God will work His alliances between the two countries out in His way and timing.
* That the grace and favour which is presently linking India and Israel will be released over the Arabian peninsula over which their flights are now free to take place!
1) “In world first, Air India crosses Saudi airspace to Israel”: AFP (Reprinted in The Times of Israel: 22 March 2018).