Israeli minister reveals contacts with Saudi Arabia 'to curb Iran'
A senior Israeli official has said Tel Aviv has "partly covert" ties with "many Muslim and Arab countries," including Riyadh. With the absolutist kingdom, Israel is now working on common concerns over Iran, the cabinet minister said.
"The connection with the moderate Arab world, including Saudi Arabia, is helping us curb Iran," Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz said in an interview on Israel's Army Radio. Riyadh, with which Tel Aviv does not have diplomatic ties, is not the only not so obvious Israel's partner in the region, the minister proffered, adding that his country is "usually the party that is not ashamed" of such contacts.
"It's the other side that is interested in keeping the ties quiet. With us, usually, there is no problem, but we respect the other side's wish, when ties are developing, whether it's with Saudi Arabia or with other Arab countries or other Muslim countries," he said, adding that there are a number of contacts that are kept secret.
The disclosure comes just days after the publication of an unprecedented interview with the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) chief of staff to a Saudi newspaper. The top military official then said his country was ready to share intelligence on Iran with Riyadh.
"There is an opportunity for a new international alliance in the region," Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot told the paper, adding that Tel Aviv wanted to "exchange intelligence to confront Iran." Having accused Tehran of trying to destabilize the region by supplying arms to terrorist groups throughout the Middle East, the IDF chief noted that Israel and Saudi Arabia had never fought each other.