Israel Maintains Direct Contacts with Saudi Arabia to Combat Iran, Minister Says

Israel is directly engaged in dialogue with Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states to combat Iranian influence in the region, Israeli Minister for Regional Cooperation Issawi Frej said on Tuesday, local media reported.

“When it comes to Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states, there is a direct line of communication and understanding against Iran,” the minister said.

However, he did not describe the nature of these contacts, referring to the fact that they go beyond the jurisdiction of his department.

At the same time, he clarified that the Iranian problem is international and does not concern only Israel and Saudi Arabia.

He also expressed the hope that one day Israeli Arabs will be able to fly directly from Israel to Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia to participate in the Hajj. The Times of Israel explains that so far there is no direct flight between Israel and Saudi Arabia.

The Times of Israel recalls that the Ministry of Regional Cooperation deals with relations with those Arab states with which Israel has normalized diplomatic relations. The ministry is seen as a backup ministry, but Frej, the only Arab in the Israeli government, insists that his ministry will expand commercial contacts with the Palestinian Authority and the Arab world.

The publication also indicates that Saudi Arabia and especially Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, according to various sources, in recent years have considered the possibility of establishing public relations with Israel. However, Riyadh insisted that the normalization of its relations with Israel would follow only upon reaching a peace agreement between the Israelis and the Palestinians.

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