Minister Yuval Steinitz. (Marc Israel Sellem/POOL) (Marc Israel Sellem/POOL)
Yuval Steinitz

Israeli Cabinet Minister Yuval Steinitz confirms reports that Israel is maintaining contacts with Saudi Arabia regarding common interests concerning Iran.  

Although high-ranking Israeli officials, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, have often spoken in general terms regarding the budding backdoor diplomatic relations between Israel and Sunni Arab states, Energy Minister Yuvals Steinitz’s comments this week mark the first official disclosure of the Jewish state’s developing ties with Riyadh.

In an interview Sunday with IDF Radio, Steinitz, a member of the Israeli security cabinet, was asked why Israel has kept its ties with Saudi Arabia secret.

“We have ties that are indeed partly covert with many Muslim and Arab countries, and usually [we are] the party that is not ashamed,” said Steinitz.

“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, and there is much more…[but] we keep it secret,” he said.

In an unprecedented move last week, Israel co-sponsored a draft resolution against Syria that was submitted by Saudi Arabia at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC).

Israel’s co-sponsoring of the Saudi resolution came a week after the Israeli Foreign Ministry reportedly instructed its envoys to launch a global diplomatic campaign against Iran and the Lebanese terror group Hezbollah, and in support of Saudi Arabia and its allies.

Sharing Military Intelligence

Steinitz’s statement comes just days after the IDF’s Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot told the Saudi Elaph news site that Israel is willing to share intelligence with Saudi Arabia, a country that shares Israel’s concerns about Iran.

Asked if Israel has recently shared intelligence with Saudi Arabia, Eizenkot said, “we are prepared to share information if there is a need to do so.”

“There are many shared interests between us and Saudi Arabia,” Eizenkot added.

Eizenkot’s statements come amid rising tensions between the Kingdom and the Islamic Republic which have increased dramatically in recent weeks and among increased speculation and reporting regarding prospects for deepening Israeli-Saudi ties.

“Under US President Donald Trump, there is an opportunity to form a new international alliance in the region. We need to carry out a large, comprehensive strategic plan to stop the Iranian threat,” Eizenkot said.

At the same time, Eizenkot expressed concern over Iran’s expanding influence in the Middle East.

“This is what should be prevented in the region,” Eizenkot said, adding that “in this matter there is complete agreement between us and Saudi Arabia.”

By: JNS.org and United with Israel Staff

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