Israeli minister reveals covert contacts with Saudi Arabia amid Iran concerns

Both Saudi Arabia and Israel view Iran as a main threat to the Middle East and increased tension between Tehran and Riyadh has fuelled speculation that shared interests may push Saudi Arabia and Israel to work together.

Lieberman called on the Arab world to follow Egypt's Sadat and make peace with Israel, on the way to countering a shared foe - Iran. "We are willing to exchange information with moderate Arab countries, including intelligence information, in order to deal with Iran".

Israeli Minister of Energy and Water Resources Yuval Steinitz has recognized the existence of secret ties between Israel and "many" Muslim and Arab states, including Saudi Arabia.

The Saudi Media interviewed the Chief of the General Staff of the Israeli Armed Forces, Lieutenant General Gadi Eisenkot. It is significant for its intended symbolism, created to show off a warmer relationship with Riyadh in public, not least the emerging US-backed axis against Iran.

Eisenkot added that "Under U.S. President Donald Trump there is an opportunity to form a new worldwide alliance in the region". "We need to carry out a large, comprehensive strategic plan to stop the Iranian threat".

Saudi Arabia has ratcheted up pressure on Iran, accusing Tehran of trying to expand its influence in Arab countries, often through proxies including the Lebanese Shia Hezbollah group.

Echoing the recent rhetoric of Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Eisenkot charged Iran with "seeking to take control of the Middle East creating a [Shia] crescent from Lebanon to Iran and then from the Gulf to the Red Sea", adding that "we must prevent this from happening".

Also in September, Israel Radio reported that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had secretly met officials in Israel that month, drawing an official denial from Riyadh.

"There is an opportunity for a new worldwide alliance in the region", Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot told the paper, adding that Tel Aviv wanted to "exchange intelligence to confront Iran". "We have no intention of attacking Hezbollah in Lebanon leading to a war", he told the paper.

  • Rogelio Becker