An Arab-Israeli Knesset member has revealed that Israel is in contact with many Gulf states – even Saudi Arabia – to cooperate on how to deal with an increasingly belligerent Iran.
Esawi Frej said there is “direct contact” and “understandings” between Israel and Saudi Arabia along with other Gulf states, in an interview with Alhurra, a U.S.-based Arabic-language channel. Frej – Israel’s minister of Regional Cooperation – said Iranian threats and its recent aggression are a global problem, not an exclusive challenge for Israel or Saudi Arabia.
Relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia have thawed in the past few years, but the two do not officially have diplomatic relations. Nevertheless, the Abraham Accords – the normalization agreement with Israel and the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco – have trickled down into various levels of cooperation between the Jewish state and Saudi Arabia including the Kingdom granting permission to commercial Israeli planes to use its airspace.
Frej is also working on an agreement to allow Israeli Muslims to make a pilgrimage to Mecca, in Saudi Arabia, without traveling through a third country, such as Jordan, in order to get there.
“I am convinced we will see such an opportunity soon,” he said.
Progress is being made between Israel and Muslim nations in the Gulf, Frej added.
“We are working on a number of projects and have already seen some taking shape, including in the medical field. We are certain there will be more cooperation for the benefit of both Emirati and Israeli society,” he said.
Frej said relations between Israel and Jordan are also improving, adding that a decision will be made in the coming weeks “that will have important implications for our relations with our Jordanian brothers.”
He also said his ministry was working to help impoverished residents of the Gaza Strip.
“Israeli-Palestinian relations have been frozen for the past 10-12 years, under the government of former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu,” he said. “That is why I have been working to bring about meetings of ministers from both sides, in order to find solutions for an array of problems.”
The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.