Israel's military chief offers to share with Saudi Arabia intel on Iran: report

Source: Xinhua| 2017-11-17 04:12:14|Editor: Mu Xuequan
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JERUSALEM, Nov. 16 (Xinhua) -- Israel's top military commander has given a historic interview to a Saudi news site, offering to share with Saudi Arabia intelligence on Iran, Israel's Ha'aretz newspaper reported on Thursday.

The interview was published on Thursday in Elaph, a London-based online Saudi newspaper. It marked the first time a high-ranking Israeli officer gave an interview to a Saudi media, a country with which Israel has no diplomatic ties.

In the interview, Lieutenant General Gadi Eisenkot, Israel's military chief of staff, said Israel and Saudi Arabia share same interests regarding Iran and that Israel is ready to share classified information with the country.

"There is an opportunity to build a new international coalition in the region," Eisenkot said. "We need to carry out a large and inclusive strategic plan to stop the Iranian danger. We are willing to exchange information with moderate Arab countries, including intelligence information in order to deal with Iran," he said.

Asked if Israel has already shared such information with Saudi Arabia, Eisenkot said: "We are willing to share information if there is a need. We have many shared interests between us."

Eisenkot noted that Israel and Saudi Arabia have never been in war, and charged that the "real and largest threat to the region" is Iran.

He said Israel and Saudi Arabia see eye to eye on Iran's alleged threats and intentions. "I participated in the meeting of chiefs of staff in Washington and heard what the Saudi representative said," Eisenkot said. "It is precisely what I think concerning Iran and the need to deal with it in the region and the need to stop its program of expansion," he added.

"Iran seeks to take control of the Middle East, creating a Shiite crescent from Lebanon to Iran and then from the Persian Gulf to the Red Sea," he added. "We must prevent this from happening."

According to Eisenkot, Israel has no intention of launching an offense against Hezbollah, an Iran-backed Shiite militia based in southern Lebanon.

"We see Iranian attempts to bring about an escalation, but I don't see a high chance for this at the moment," he said, warning that local flare-ups could "lead to a broad strategic conflict."

The interview comes as Israel is increasingly worried over a looming U.S.-Russian-led cease-fire agreement in Syria.

The Trump administration is eager to see Israel and Saudi Arabia, two U.S. allies, cooperating together. In his visit to Israel in May, Trump said that two countries share many common interests, and urged ties between Israel and other countries in the Middle East.

Israel currently has official diplomatic relations only with Egypt and Jordan in the Middle East, but it has reportedly held ties with other countries in the region.

According to Ha'aretz newspaper, even if the Saudi rulers might be eager to build ties with Israel, the people of Saudi Arabia would strongly object such a move, primarily due to the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian West Bank and Gaza Strip.