The Jewish state of Israel and the Sunni Islamic kingdom of Saudi Arabia have a complicated relationship. Official diplomatic relations between the two are non-existent. Yet unofficial contacts not only exist but appear to be thriving
Why? Because for all the bad blood between them, both consider Shiite Iran the greater threat. It's one of those enemy-of-my-enemy hookups.
Israel would love the relationship to play out officially and in public as a grand sign to the world of its desired acceptance as a sovereign Jewish nation in the heart of the Muslim Middle East.
The Saudi monarchy has a more complex agenda, however.
Whatever it's political goals, the Saudi royals also must mollify their nation's ultra-traditional religious establishment, the staunch support of which has allowed the descendants of King Abdulaziz Al Saud to rule over the bulk of the Arabian Peninsula since the nation's founding in 1932.
Saudi Arabia is the cradle of Islam, containing the holy cities of Mecca and Medina and the birthplace of the Prophet Muhammad. Because of the kingdom's centrality to Islam, religious backing is critical to the ruling family's continued reign.
Problem is, those religious leaders show little willingness to compromise their rigid Wahhabi Muslim theology for the sake of earthly political considerations.
Here's an example of how the game is played.