Israeli Defense Minister hopeful about ‘special security arrangement’ with Gulf allies

Kerem Shalom: – Israeli Defence Minister Benni Gantz said ‘Israel will not sign direct defence agreements with the Gulf countries. But Israel can definitely have special defence cooperation with the Gulf countries who have developed diplomatic ties with Israel.’ The statements made by the Israeli Defence Minister become significant at a time when talks are going on that the perceived threat from Iran to the Gulf countries has intensified.   

Last month, a leading Israeli radio channel published a report that talks are being held for a joint defence agreement with Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain. The radio channel claimed, quoting sources, that this agreement is possible against the increasing Iranian threat. A leading international news channel quizzed Israeli Defence Minister Bennie Gantz regarding this while he was on a visit to review the border’s situation. At that time, the Israeli Defence Minister presented the country’s stand.

UAE and Bahrain have recognised Israel and established diplomatic relations with Israel. Indications are that the other Gulf countries will soon be establishing diplomatic ties with Israel. Saudi Arabia has still not announced diplomatic ties with Israel, but cooperation has started between them. Against this background, the Israeli Defence Minister has reacted cautiously regarding defence cooperation with the Gulf countries.   

The Israeli Defence Minister accepted that a direct defence agreement is impossible with the Gulf countries at this juncture. But Defence Minister Gantz said that special defence cooperation is possible with the countries, who have established diplomatic ties with Israel.
Defence Minister Gantz expressed confidence that Israel will develop its security-related ties with the Arab countries based on this defence cooperation. Although he did not mention any names, Gantz suggests that cooperation can be developed with Saudi Arabia without the defence agreement.   

Last year, in September, Israel, UAE and Bahrain signed the Abraham agreement. Cooperation was established between Israel and these two Arab countries under this agreement. Two days ago, UAE started its embassy in Tel Aviv and appointed Mohammed Al Khaja as the first Ambassador to Israel. At this time, Khaja met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Prime Minister Netanyahu announced while welcoming the UAE Ambassador to the meeting, ‘We are changing the Gulf. We are changing the world’.
Former US State Secretary, Mike Pompeo, indicated that many in Saudi Arabia favour cooperation with Israel. Two days ago, Pompeo announced this while speaking at a function of the Republican party. Pompeo expressed confidence ‘The Saudi royal family will certainly find a way of entering into the Abraham agreement.
The confidence in the Arab countries grew after the United States eliminated the Quds forces Chief General Qassem Soleimani and the Gulf counties were inclined to cooperate with Israel. Pompeo emphasised that the elimination of General Soleimani and the Abraham agreement are not different in any way.
Meanwhile, US state department spokesman, Ned Price, said that even the Biden administration is willing to mediate for Israel and Saudi Arabia’s cooperation. But the United States expects Saudi to address the human rights issues before that. But setting a condition of addressing the human rights issues to Saudi only shows the contradiction in the Biden administration’s policies. The Biden administration is willing to talk to Iran and others, infamous for their human rights track record.

Especially, the Biden administration has adopted a noncommittal stand on the trampling of human rights of the Uyghur people in China. The analysts express resentment on the Biden administration’s stand to target Saudi raising the human rights issues.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.