Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has hailed the regime’s “breakthrough” in its ties with Arab countries, claiming “many levels of cooperation” exist that cannot yet be exposed to the public.
Netanyahu said on Wednesday that those ties have not yet reached a level for the Arab states to acknowledge in public.
“What is actually happening with [the Arab states] has never happened in our history, even when we signed agreements,” Netanyahu told Israeli diplomats at a Jewish New Year gathering at the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem al-Quds.
Cooperation between Israel and Arab states exists “in various ways and different levels,” though it still is not visible above the surface, he said, adding that away from the public eye, “there is much more than during any other period in the history of Israel. This is a tremendous change. The entire world is changing.”
The Israeli prime minister had said earlier this year that Arab countries did not consider Israel their enemy anymore.
Most Arab governments have no official diplomatic relations with Israel. Even so, reports have indicated that several of them, including Saudi Arabia, have had secret relations with Tel Aviv.
Citing unnamed Arab and American sources, The Times reported in June that Saudi Arabia and the Israeli regime were in clandestine talks to establish official economic relations for the first time since the entity was created on the Palestinian territories some 69 years ago.
Forming economic connections between the two sides, which would be gradual, could begin by allowing Israeli companies to open shops in the Arab kingdom, or granting El Al Israel Airlines Ltd. permission to fly over Saudi airspace, the report said.
On June 22, Israel’s Transportation and Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz urged Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud to invite Netanyahu to Riyadh to establish full diplomatic relations, and called for creating “an access vis-a-vis Iran” jointly with the Saudis.
Katz also described Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud as a “dynamic person” and “initiator,” who needed to be sent to the occupied territories for talks with Israel.
Saudi Arabia has not yet recognized Israel since the regime’s foundation in 1948. Saudi authorities thus do not accept Israeli passports, and holders of passports containing any Israeli visa or stamp will be denied entry. However, any prospect of official ties between Tel Aviv and Riyadh will also mean that Saudi leaders might have on their agenda a review of their recognition of the Israeli regime.