An Israeli cabinet minister said on Sunday that Israel had covert ties with “many” Arab and Muslim states but was obliged not to name them at the other sides’ request.
A rare interview given by the head of Israel’s armed forces to a Saudi-owned news site was published on Thursday, further fuelling talk of close links.
It followed previous broad hints by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and accusations by Hezbollah that Saudi Arabia was pushing Israel to attack the Lebanese Shiite group.
“We have ties, some of them secret, with many Arab and Muslim states,” Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz told Israeli army radio on Sunday.
“Usually the one who wants those ties to be discreet is the other side,” he said in response to a question about ties with Riyadh.
“We respect the wishes of the other side when contacts are developing, whether it is with Saudi Arabia or other Arab or Muslim countries.”
Although Saudi Arabia and Israel have no official diplomatic relations, they share a common enemy in Iran, with both seeking to limit the Islamic republic’s expanding influence in the Middle East.
Netanyahu has also spoken repeatedly and with pride about growing rapprochement with “moderate Arab states” without naming them, although he is assumed to be referring to Saudi Arabia and other Gulf monarchies.