Israeli minister reveals contacts with Saudi Arabia 'to curb Iran'

Frederick Owens
November 20, 2017

It is the latest dramatic twist in weeks of turmoil in the region, which followed an unexpected purge of Saudi princes and officials by crown prince Mohammad bin Salman, who has also increasingly locked Saudi Arabia on a path to confrontation with Iran.

This was an unprecedented event in the relations between Saudi Arabia and Israel, where there are still no official diplomatic relations.

"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.

"This is what should be prevented in the region", he said, adding, "In this matter there is complete agreement between us and Saudi Arabia".

Last week, the Israeli military chief, Lieutenant General Gadi Eizenkot, told an Arabic language online newspaper that Israel was ready to share "intelligence information" with Saudi Arabia, saying their countries had a common interest in standing up to Iran.

He said U.S. President Donald Trump's election on a platform that calls for increasing pressure on Iran has provided an opportunity for new alliances in the Middle East. "We will not allow any Iranian presence". "We need to carry out a large, comprehensive strategic plan to stop the Iranian threat", Eizenkot said.

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Earlier this month, Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri announced his resignation in a surprise move that had plunged Lebanon into a new political crisis.

"The Middle East today needs, more than anything else, a coalition of moderate states against Iran".

In September, a senior IDF officer noted that the Iran provides some $60 million to $70 million a year to Hamas in the Gaza Strip, plus hundreds of millions of dollars more for militias in Syria and Iraq and Houthi rebels in Yemen fighting pro-government forces backed by a Saudi- led coalition. We respect the will of the other side: when connections develop, whether it is with Saudi Arabia or other countries...

Last month, Saudi former intelligence chief Prince Turki bin Faisal shared a stage with ex-Israeli Mossad spy agency director Efraim Halevy at a debate on Iran in a NY synagogue.

"We see Iranian attempts at bringing about an escalation, but I don't see a high chance for this at the moment", he said.

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