Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz speaks in New York City on September 26 during the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly. (Johannes Eisele/AFP/Getty Images)

Israeli FM: We’re Seeking Non-aggression Pacts with Gulf States (AUDIO INTERVIEW)

Hope is that it will end decades of hostility, though still no reaction from other side

Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz confirmed on Sunday that he has been working on non-aggression treaties with several Arab Gulf states.

Katz said the “historic” démarche could settle the conflict between those countries and Israel, ending decades of hostilities with Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, and establishing a foundation for normalization even though the Israeli-Palestinian conflict remains unresolved.

Katz claims that the proposed treaty is in its advanced stages, and says that while in New York City for the recent opening session of the United Nations General Assembly, he showed his plan to several Arab foreign ministers.

There has been no official reaction to the news from any of the Gulf states.

Mohammad Al-Kassim, The Media Line’s Middle East bureau chief, spoke with Giora Eiland, a retired Israeli general who went on to head the country’s National Security Council, and today is a senior research associate at the Tel Aviv-based Institute for National Security Studies.

 

[Transcript]

Mohammad Al-Kassim: Welcome to The Media Line. I’m Mohammad Al-Kassim. Joining me is Giora Eiland, a retired Israeli general who went on to head the country’s National Security Council and today is a senior research associate at the Tel Aviv-based Institute for National Security Studies. Thank you for joining me.

Giora Eiland: Thank you

MAK:  General, Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz confirms that he has been working on non-aggression treaties with several Arab Gulf states. How might Israel benefit?

GE:  I don’t think that there is a significant benefit for Israel. It is a kind of PR activity more than substance because, from a practical point of view, we are not in any, let’s say, confrontations with any of the Arab states in the Gulf. More than that, we do have commercial relations and something even beyond commercial relations so far, and even some kind of political or even intelligence coordination, because we do share some common interests. The reality today is de facto non-aggression – if not an agreement, a de facto situation. So, it doesn’t have any significant meaning so far.

MAK: Let me turn the question then. How might the Gulf states benefit and how receptive might they be?

GE: I don’t think that the Gulf states will be very enthusiastic to move along this road because they are very sensitive to any kind of relations with Israel, especially as long as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not resolved. There is a continuous commitment of actually all the Arab regimes not to proceed and not to reach any diplomatic relations with Israel as long as this conflict is not accomplished. I’m reminded there were some attempts by President Obama and some others to try to reach some normalization between Israel and those countries, and it was rejected by the Arab countries because any normalization with Israel is not very popular in the streets of those countries, so they don’t have any real interest to do anything bold and official with Israel. However, they do have a good interest to continue with the confidential relations, especially to share intelligence and to get some kind of security advice. But this does not mean that we need to have anything formal. So I don’t foresee any success behind this initiative. If it is real, I believe it is quite a naïve Israeli initiative and I don’t think it will reach any substantial results in the near future.

MAK: You are listening to Giora Eiland, a retired Israeli general who went on to head the country’s National Security Council and today is a senior research associate at the Tel Aviv-based Institute for National Security Studies.

Iran, clearly is the elephant in the room. There is speculation now that Riyadh is looking to lower tensions with Tehran rather than rattle sabers. After the aerial attack against the Saudi oil facilities on September 14th, do you think this is true?

GE: I think what is certainly true is that Saudi Arabia was attacked and it is more than evident that it was carried out by the Iranians. They probably did it from Iraqi soil, and from a professional point of view, it was quite an impressive demonstration of Iranian capability. Unfortunately, Saudi Arabia is deterred and actually the Iranians have achieved what they wanted, and this it to call on Saudi Arabia – not to be ready for confrontations, but on the contrary, actually to release a very peaceful announcement and to try to reach some kind of understanding with Iran. I’m not sure that this serves the long-range interests of Saudi Arabia and the other countries in the Gulf, but I must admit that this is quite a successful combination of Iranian military actions and very aggressive policy.

MAK: Gen. Giora Eiland, thank you for joining me at The Media Line. I’m Mohammad Al-Kassim.

GE: Thank you.

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