TEL AVIV – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday said Israel maintains covert ties with “most Arab countries.”
“Whether overtly or covertly, we are maintaining ties with many leaders in the Arab world and [we have] widespread relations with most Arab countries,” the prime minister said in Tel Aviv at a memorial ceremony for the victims of the 1948 Altalena incident.
Netanyahu addressed the subject of next week’s U.S.-led summit in Bahrain, saying he “welcomed” the Trump administration’s initiative in hosting the workshop, and Washington’s efforts in ushering in a “better future for — and resolving problems of — the region.”
He added that the summit, where the White House will unroll the economic part of its long-anticipated peace plan, will be attended by Israelis.
“Of course, Israelis will be present,” Netanyahu said.
Israeli officials have not been invited to participate in the summit, but a delegation from Israel’s business community will attend.
Netanyahu also spoke about next week’s security summit in Jerusalem between Israel, Russia and the US.
“This is a very important summit for ensuring stability in the Middle East during turbulent times,” he said.
“What is important about this trilateral meeting of the two superpowers in the State of Israel is that it greatly attests to the current international standing of Israel among the nations,” the prime minister added.
U.S. National Security Adviser Ambassador John Bolton, Israeli National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat, and Russian Secretary of the Security Council Nikolay Patrushev are set to meet in Jerusalem to discuss regional security, according to a statement by the White House earlier this month.
The meeting is likely to deal mostly with Syria, and specifically focus on Iran’s efforts to entrench itself militarily there. It is also expected to focus on the withdrawal of US troops from Syria.
Last month, Ben-Shabbat met with Bolton to discuss their “shared commitment to countering Iranian malign activity & other destabilizing actors in the Middle East and around the world,” Bolton said at the time.
Ben-Shabbat also met with Patrushev in September 2018 in Moscow to discuss “regional issues in the Middle East, including the situation in Syria,” a statement from Netanyahu’s office said at the time. “National Security Adviser Ben-Shabbat emphasized that Israel insists that Iranian forces must leave all of Syria.”