[original article in DW]
Officials from Israel and Saudi Arabia met in private and had conversed during an event at The Council on Foreign Relations (a think tank in Washington DC) on June 4th.
Anwar Majid Ashki, a retired Saudi senior military official, was present at the meeting. Ashki was also an advisor to the previous Saudi King, Abdullah, as well as head of the National Security Council and former ambassador to Saudi Arabia in the United States. On the Israeli side, Dur Gold, the country’s former representative to the United Nations.
Ever since Saudi Arabia has recognized the State of Israel, the two countries have garnered much media attention. For instance, Bloomberg News wrote “two hostile countries” in Israel and Saudi Arabia are working closer together to fight a “common enemy” in Iran. According to reports as early as 2014, officials from both countries have met privately at least five times. In the past seventeen months Israeli and Saudi officials have met in India, Italy, and the Czech Republic. Shimon Shapira, an Israeli official who has participated in the meetings told Bloomberg News that, “we understand that we have a common problem that requires a collective response.”
Shapira, also an expert on Hezbollah, pointed to Iran’s regional activities and said that Israel and Saudi Arabia have discussed ways to deal with Iran through political and economic avenues – but did not share the details of their conversation.
During the event on June 4th, the audience was not allowed to ask questions to the Israeli and Saudi officials who both shared the same sentiment that “Iran seeks to dominate the Middle East and they must be stopped.” Ashki made a brief reference into the history of Iran’s revolution and said that during this time the Islamic Republic has committed assassinations, kidnappings, and rape. Ashki has a seven point plan for the Middle East with the first achieving peace between Israel and Palestine and the second as regime change in Iran.
Other items on his seven point plan is to form a unified Arab army, and establish an independent Kurdish State from Iran, Iraq, and Turkey. Gold stated that Iran’s ambitions within the region must be stopped but unlike his Saudi counterpart he did not call for regime change. Gold went on to say that their joint presence does not mean that all their differences have been resolved, rather “we are hopeful that these difference will be resolved in the coming years.”