Israel has been consulting with Sunni Arab countries on ways to counter terrorism and the rise of Iran, Dore Gold, the director-general of the Israeli Foreign Ministry, said in an interview with the Financial Times on Monday. “The Sunni Arab states increasingly see the Middle East through the same prism as Israel,” Gold explained.
Several events in recent months have demonstrated Israel’s burgeoning relationships with Arab countries, particularly Saudi Arabia. Anwar Eshki, a former general who has served in senior positions in the Saudi military and foreign ministry, visited Israel last month as part of a delegation of Saudi academics and businessmen. The group met with Gold; IDF Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories; and opposition Knesset members, including Yair Lapid, the chairman of the Yesh Atid party. Additionally, former Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror and former Saudi intelligence chief Prince Turki al-Faisal engaged in a public discussion on regional issues at an event at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy in May. Although the two former officials differed on the Mideast peace process, both emphasized the threat posed by Iran. In June, officials from Israel and Saudi Arabia revealed that representatives from their countries had been engaging in secret meetings since 2014 to discuss Iran’s threat to the region.
Israel’s ties with Egypt also have been improving. Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry visited Israel last month to offer his government’s assistance in restarting peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians. Shoukry’s visit marked the first time an Egyptian foreign minister had visited Israel since 2007, and highlighted the closer ties that have been forged in the last few years under the leadership of Egyptian president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. Also last month, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin attended a reception at Egypt’s embassy in Tel Aviv in honor of Egypt’s National Day. The two countries have increased military and intelligence cooperation in order to combat ISIS’ Sinai affiliate and Hamas. Egypt has been destroying underground tunnels between Sinai and Gaza in order to prevent the smuggling of weapons and fighters between the two groups. ISIS in Sinai perpetrated major attacks against Egypt, and both Egyptian and Israeli intelligence agencies have noted that Hamas and ISIS cooperate extensively. Hamas has both trained ISIS militants and provided them with medical care.
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