Report: High-level Israeli delegation secretly visited Saudi Arabia

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Israel has confirmed it has been secretly communicating with Sunni Arab states, including a recent high-level visit by an Israeli delegation to Saudi Arabia.

The Sunni states “are not shaking hands [with Israelis] in public, but we meet in closed rooms,” Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said.

Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon
Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon

The meeting in Riyadh last month included a senior Israeli official, according to Channel 10 Arab affairs expert Tzvi Yehezkeli, who added that Saudi, under King Salman, has become more open about contacts with Israel.

The Gulf states “need Israel because both are facing a common problem as Iran grows stronger following the nuclear deal it signed – and because the U.S. is no longer a meaningful presence in the region,” Yehezkeli said.

Ya’alon said Israel’s communications with Arab countries include “not only Jordan and Egypt. I speak about the Gulf states and North African states, too. For them, Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood are the enemy…. Iran is the bad guy for us and for the Sunni regimes.”

Saudi Prince Faisal responded to Ya’alon’s comments by saying the Israeli defense minister was right about the animosity between the Sunni countries and Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood, but the same Sunni Arab countries are also furious with Israel over the Palestinian issue.

According to Ha’aretz, Ya’alon rejected the Saudi prince’s remarks. “There is a conflict with the Palestinians – but what is the linkage between this and the Iranian revolution? ISIL has a connection to the conflict? The civil war in Syria or the uprising in Tunisia? The situation in Yemen or Iraq? There is no connection.”