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Saudis, allies discuss Iran ahead of Arab League meeting

20 November 2017

Cairo, Nov 19 Saudi Arabia warned today that it would not stand idly by in the face of Iranian "aggression", as Bahrain said the Iran-backed Hezbollah movement was "in total control" of Lebanon.

US President Donald Trump's peace envoys, seeking an Israeli-Palestinian agreement with regional support, have visited Saudi Arabia several times since he took office.

In an interview with Reuters on Thursday, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Jubeir, asked about reports of cooperation with Israel, cited a Saudi peace initiative, first adopted in 2002 by the Arab League, as key to forging any relationship.

The foreign ministers of the four Arab states met in the Egyptian capital Sunday ahead of an Arab League meeting later in the day. However, much points to the consideration of "bold decisions" by Tel Aviv and Riyadh, including official visits and the establishment of diplomatic relations.

"Usually the one who wants those ties to be discreet is the other side", he said in response to a question about ties with Riyadh. We have ties, which are partially secret, with many Muslim and Arab states... Both sides refuse to back down, but Doha says it is ready to engage with U.S. and Kuwaiti mediation.

Netanyahu has expressed tentative support for parts of the initiative, but there are many caveats on the Israeli side.

Let's note, that recently Israel and Saudi Arabia show mutual readiness for rapprochement on a platform of joint opposition to Iran.

Speaking to the Saudi newspaper Elaph, Gen Gadi Eisenkot described Iran as the "biggest threat to the region" and said Israel would be prepared to share intelligence with "moderate" Arab states like Saudi Arabia in order to "deal with" Tehran.

Gulf Arab countries are also anxious about the Islamic republic's support for Huthi rebels in Yemen.

But he said Israeli officials have tended to exaggerate such interactions in a bid to "drive down the price they may have to pay, especially on Palestinian issues, to expand strategic relations and ties with Arab countries".

"The ballistic missile launched on my country's capital reflects the repeated Iranian attacks against the kingdom, which witnessed the launch of 80 Iranian ballistic missiles through its Houthi agent in Yemen, which was exposed to various cities in the Kingdom, and did not care about the Muslims' Qiblah by launching three ballistic missiles in a blatant attack on Islamic sanctity and a provocation to the feelings of Muslims around the world".

"There is an opportunity for a new worldwide alliance in the region", Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot told the paper, adding that Tel Aviv wanted to "exchange intelligence to confront Iran".

Saudis, allies discuss Iran ahead of Arab League meeting