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Israel ready to cooperate with Saudi, says defence chief

Israel is ready to cooperate with Saudi Arabia, Israel's army chief said [Getty]

Date of publication: 16 November, 2017

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Israel's army chief Lieutenant General Gadi Eisenkot said it was ready to cooperate with Saudi Arabia to face common rival Iran, although the two countries have no diplomatic ties.

Israel is ready to cooperate with Saudi Arabia to face Iran's plans "to control the Middle East", Israel's military chief of staff said on Thursday.

"We are ready to exchange experience with the moderate Arab countries and exchange intelligence information to face Iran," Lieutenant General Gadi Eisenkot was quoted as saying by Elaph, a Saudi-run news site.

Asked whether any information had been shared recently with Saudi Arabia, he said: "We are ready to share information if necessary. There are many common interests between us and them."

Israel's army confirmed the contents of the interview, a rare move as Israel and Saudi Arabia have no official diplomatic ties.

Saudi Arabia has long been at loggerheads with regional rival Iran but friction has spiralled in recent weeks.

Earlier this month, Lebanese prime minister Saad Hariri announced from Saudi capital Riyadh that he was quitting, citing Iran's "grip" on his country.

The leader of Hizballah, the Lebanese Shia militant group supported by Iran, has accused Saudi Arabia of pressing Israel to launch attacks against it.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani made similar allegations this week.

Israel and Hizballah fought a devastating war in 2006.

Eisenkot said in the interview that Israel had "no intention of initiating a conflict with Hizballah in Lebanon and reaching a war, but we cannot accept strategic threats to Israel there".

"I am very happy with the calm on both sides of the border, which has lasted 11 years. On the other hand, we see Iranian attempts to escalate."

A Lebanese newspaper close to Hizballah says it has obtained a 'secret' Saudi foreign ministry document detailing a roadmap for establishing diplomatic ties with Israel, amid reports of a US-backed push for peace in the region.
Reports of Gulf Arab states normalising relations with Israel had become prevalent over the past months. In September, a rumour emergeed that the Bahraini king had "grown tired" of the Arab boycott of Israel.

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