News / Middle East

FM: Israel Close to Forging New Ties Across Arab World

FILE - Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman.
FILE - Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman.
Israel is holding secret talks with some Arab States that do not recognize it, looking to establish diplomatic ties based on a common fear of Iran, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said on Monday.
Among the countries he was in contact with were Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, Lieberman told newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth - the first such disclosure by a senior Israeli official.
The two nations swiftly denied the existence of any talks with Israel.
Both these states, along with most other Arab nations, have traditionally been highly hostile towards Israel, which has only signed peace deals with two neighbors - Egypt and Jordan.
However, anti-Israeli sentiment was being superseded by a growing concern over Iran's nuclear program, Tehran's regional allies, and the menace of Islamist militancy, Lieberman said.
“For the first time there is an understanding there that the real threat is not Israel, the Jews or Zionism. It is Iran, global jihad, [Lebanese Shi'ite guerrilla group] Hezbollah and al Qaeda,” the foreign minister said.
“There are contacts, there are talks, but we are very close to the stage in which within a year or 18 months it will no longer be secret, it will be conducted openly,” added Lieberman, who is a far rightist in the coalition government.
Lieberman said he was in touch with “moderate” Arabs - a term Israelis often use for Sunni states in the Gulf and elsewhere in the Middle East that align with U.S. interests. He also said he would have no problem visiting Saudi Arabia or Kuwait.
“I have spent more than a few years of meetings and talks with them. As far as they are concerned, there is only one red rag [flag] and that is Iran,” he said.
A spokesman for Saudi Arabia's Foreign Ministry said: “There are no ties or talks with Israel at any level.” In Kuwait, Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Khaled al-Jarallah said: “It is not true, we don't have these kind of talks.”
Full relations
Yedioth paraphrased Lieberman as saying some new Israeli-Arab peace accords would be signed in 2019.
“I'm certain that by then we will have a situation in which we have full diplomatic relations with most of the moderate Arab states. And you can count on my word,” he said.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has long hinted that Israel and the Gulf states share a similar goal in halting Iran's nuclear program, saying they all saw a mortal threat in its ambitious atomic drive.
Iran denies that it is planning to build nuclear weapons.
Senior Israeli officials have also said that like themselves, moderate Sunni states are worried that Washington was not taking a tough enough line with Tehran.
However, analysts have scoffed at the idea that ties between Israel and much of the Arab world could be normalized while the Israeli-Palestinian conflict remained unresolved.
U.S.-brokered peace talks between the two are floundering, with no indication that a resolution is anywhere in sight.
“To Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states, the cost of open relations with Israel at this time may be higher than the benefit, given the position of the Arab street,” Israeli think tank, the Institute for National Security Studies, said in a report in December.
Lieberman, who has worked hard in recent months to soften his hardline international image, suggested Arab nations were as eager as Israel to be open about their shared interests.
“I think that they too are stewing in their own juice and reaching an awareness that there will be no choice but to move from the secret stage of the dialogue between us to the open stage of the talks,” he said.

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Comment Sorting
by: Godwin from: Nigeria
April 14, 2014 12:53 PM
This is a sham, a ruse, there is no truth in it whatsoever. Lieberman may be routing for something more than is reported here. He may be trying to nip the idea in the bud - if anything of such is being tinkered within Israel cabinet or the Knesset, or it could be so that Iran hastens up with better and more compromise than it has been willing to yield under the ongoing nuclear deal with the world powers. Even then, it is a very bad trump card to play. It is too open and too glaring for everyone to see through that Arab states will ever want to share anything with Israel under any guise of threat.

On the other hand, Israel should understand that no relationship with any Arab country will work. After seeing the fiasco of such trials with Turkey, Israel should know better than toy with another friendship that will only spell more disaster for the country. Surely the world would welcome such relations, if it ever can work out, with wide open hands, with the exception of those in Europe who have invested so much resources to see to the engraved enmity between the two neighbors (Israel and the Arabs) for obvious gains they make from it, but it would be another very important source of ensuring greater world peace as partial elimination of the taproot of disunity and terrorism in the world. For then the Saudis would have to limit - if not totally eliminate - the sponsorship and support to al qaida and other sunni islamic terrorist cells, thus putting more pressure on Iran to either drop its extremist stand or face the whole world alone.

by: Dr. Hans from: Germany
April 14, 2014 12:13 PM
well this is not surprising... the Arabs have - finally - understood that they are all dead if the Iranian Mullahs are to have their way with them... they see what Hizbullah is doing to the Syrian Arabs, to the Lebanese Arabs... and they know that without a strong Israel - they are all dead. No one trusts the US anymore...

by: meanbill from: USA
April 14, 2014 12:07 PM
Israel needs those landing fields in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Kuwait, to land and refuel and rearm their warplanes if Iran, Syria, Iraq, and other Arab countries attacked Israel, and damaged or destroyed their less than 50 airfields.. --- Where could the Israel warplanes go, if all the Israel warplanes where in the air, but they had no airfield to rearm and refuel? --- They can't land on US aircraft carriers, but could refuel in the air, but they couldn't rearm them in the air, could they?

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