A top-level Israeli delegation that included a senior political figure visited Saudi Arabia a few weeks ago, according to Channel 10.
The channel’s Arab affairs expert, Tzvi Yehezkeli, said that he cannot reveal everything that he knows about the visit due to military censorship, and that there have been additional visits, which he cannot report about for similar reasons.
The matter is sensitive, he explained, but under their new king, Salman, the Saudis are more open about the contacts with Israel. The Gulf states, he added, need Israel because both are facing a common problem as Iran grows stronger following the nuclear deal it signed – and because the US is no longer a meaningful presence in the region.
Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon (Likud) said in mid-February at the Munich Security Conference in Germany that Israel was carrying out secret contacts with Arab countries in the Persian Gulf.
Ya’alon’s said in his speech that Israel has channels of communication with neighboring Sunni Arab countries. “Not only Jordan and Egypt,” he elaborated. “I speak about the Gulf states and North African states too. Unfortunately, they are not here to listen. For them, Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood are the enemy…. Iran is the bad guy for us and for the Sunni regimes. They are not shaking hands [with Israelis] in public, but we meet in closed rooms.”
After Ya’alon spoke, Saudi Prince Faisal raised his hand and asked for permission to speak. He said that while Ya’alon was right about the animosity between the Sunni countries on one hand and Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood on the other, the same measure the Sunni Arab countries are also furious with Israel over the occupation and its treatment of the Palestinians.
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? ISIS 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.”