Wherever you’re from, foreign plates might be pretty common. If you’re from Europe, you probably see them all the time. If you’re from New England, you’re probably cursing to yourself behind a bargain-spec Quebecois Mazda3 going 15 below the speed limit, trying to not miss the turnoff for some tourist trap. But if you’re from Israel, the story is pretty different. With two borders closed because one leads to Syria and the other to Lebanon, and the other two open but rarely used by vehicular traffic, pretty much every plate you see is the standard yellow Israeli one.
So when Israeli Army Radio reporter Jacky Hugi spotted a plate that didn’t fit the norm in Jaffa on Friday, he had to snag a picture:
The plates he saw on the back of a Silver Mercedes CLK350 were from Saudi Arabia, which refuses to publicly acknowledge the state of Israel, let alone engage in any direct trade relations with the Jewish state. Jordanian and Egyptian plates are basically an unheard-of sight to begin with, so when these plates were spotted, no one really knew what to say.
Hugi, for one, took it as a sign that American diplomatic efforts were responsible for this unprecedented occurrence. In his tweet, he suggested that might have been the Iran deal which brought a Saudi to an enemy state, alluding to the distrust shared by Saudi Arabia and Israel towards the agreement.
While that explanation holds less water than a Negev reservoir, and reporters attempting to get a clue from the Israeli Ministry of Transportation were left empty-handed, a chance encounter between one of Hugi’s Facebook friends and the driver of the Mercedes recorded in the Time of Israel seems to have given us a little insight. According to the anonymous Facebook friend, the driver identified himself as a Saudi businessman in Jerusalem earlier in the week, but no other details, like those surrounding his entrance into the country, became clearer.