Netanyahu speaking at the Munich Security Conference, February 18, 2018. IMAGE: Amos Ben Gershom / GPO
On September 3rd, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that despite the 2015 Iran Nuclear Deal being bad, it had brought Israel closer to the Arab world.
“The agreement with Iran was a bad agreement in every respect except for one – it brought us closer to the Arab world on a scale that we never knew, and one of our goals is that it continues,” Netanyahu said in a speech at the Foreign Ministry, cited by i24News.
“I think that another important thing is, of course, the fact that there is a gradual normalization with leading countries in the Arab world,” he added in the context of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
Regarding the Iran Nuclear Deal, when on May 8th, Donald Trump announced the US withdrawal form the agreement, Netanyahu praised Trump for what he described as a “brave decision to reject the catastrophic nuclear deal with the terrorist regime in Tehran.”
Israel has been a strong supporter of the reimposition of sanctions on Iran. The two countries have not had official diplomatic relations since the Islamic revolution of 1979 and bilateral tensions in recent years have escalated, Tehran refuses to recognize the Jewish state, which in response condemns Iran for its alleged attempts to expand its influence in Syria.
On August 29th, Israel’s Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon met with United States Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, as well as with Trump Mideast envoy Jason Greenblatt. He mostly discussed Israeli-Palestinian joint economic projects. However, Kahlon and Mnuchin also announced the establishment of a joint US-Israel professional team that will enforce economic sanctions against Iran in the high-tech sector. Kahlon said: “The economic sanctions that the United States is leading against Iran have proven themselves. They contribute to removing the threat to Israel’s security and to the security of the entire free world, and for this we must thank the U.S…. The joint team that we have established will be of great importance in tightening the sanctions on Iran. This is great news for the State of Israel.”
i24News further reported that Netanyahu has repeatedly said that Sunni states have been inviting Israel to join an “anti-Iranian coalition.” Israel has repeatedly accused Iran of fueling regional conflicts in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Bahrain.
As reported by Sputnik, on August 1st, Netanyahu hinted at joining an anti-Irani coalition in the event that Tehran blocks the Bab al-Mandab Strait, the southern entrance to the Red Sea. Iran has so far only ever threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz, which is in the Persian Gulf.
i24News also cited a New Yorker magazine report from June, which describes the detailed and deep co-operation in recent years between Israel and Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), alongside a presumably increasingly decaying US-Israeli relationship under the Obama administration, which appears to be rapidly improving under the Trump one.
The report detailed, among other things, a 2015 meeting in Cyprus between top Emirati and Israeli officials — suspected to have included Netanyahu himself — during which the parties coordinated a joint stance on how to tackle Iran in the face of Obama’s imminent singing of a nuclear pact with Tehran.
Earlier in 2018, on July 4th, Israeli Air Force hosted a military delegation from the UAE to review operations of the US-made F-35 fighter jets. The UAE and Israel formally have no public relations, i24News cites reports that have hinted at longstanding ties based on a multitude of common interests – most significant of which is Iran’s expanding influence in the region.
Another development which led to rumors of warmer ties between Israel and the Arab world was Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman’s recognition of Israel’s “right” to exist and the possibility of future cooperation. He also said that the Palestinians also have a right to a homeland and that “normal relations” between Tel Aviv and Riyadh would depend on a peace agreement between the Palestinians and Israel.
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