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Saudi and Israel had five secret meetings over Iran

world Updated: Jun 05, 2015 14:34 IST
Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia and Israel met secretly five times to discuss their common foe, Iran. This was revealed by two former officials of the countries on Thursday during a meeting of a Washington think-tank.

Anwar Eshki, a retired major general in the Saudi armed forces and former Israeli ambassador Dore Gold's presence at the Washington office of the Council on Foreign Relations marked the fifth time both countries had met.

While both men currently run think-thanks, Gold, who during his tenure as ambassador was reportedly close to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, will become the next director-general of Israel's Ministery of Foreign Affairs on Sunday.

"We're both allies of the United State," said Gold during the session, "I hope this is the beginning of more discussion about our common strategic problems."

While Gold presented a fairly routine speech where he spoke about Iran's "war of expansionism," which stretched from Iraq to Syria to Yemen, Eshki proposed a 7-point plan to solve the Iranian threat.

Top on that list was peace between Israel and Saudi Arabia.

A recent poll conducted by the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya showed that 53% of Arabs consider Iran to be their greatest threat, compared to only 18% who named Israel, and a staggering 85% supported the Arab Peace Initiative.

While Anwar said that Israel had "become isolated because it did not respond to the peace initiative," it seems that the threat of Iran, in the backdrop of US President Barack Obama's ongoing negotiations with Tehran, has changed the Arab nation's stance towards its long-time rival.

A WikiLeaks cable, dated March 19, 2009, shows the then deputy director-general of the Ministry of Foreign relations, Yacov Hadas, saying that Gulf Arabs want a new relationship with Israel due to "their sense that they can count on Israel against Iran."