Senior Israeli official: Netanyahu was aware of Iran-Saudi rapprochement

News of the deal came a day after Netanyahu told Iranian citizens to “be strong” in a rare interview with an Iranian opposition outlet.

By World Israel News Staff

Israel was aware of Iran and Saudi Arabia’s plans to sign a deal restoring relations, a senior Israeli official told Iran International.

The anonymous official, who was accompanying Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during an official visit to Italy, insisted that the Israeli government knew about the talks between Tehran and Riyadh “for a long time,” the report said.

The outlet, affiliated with the Iranian opposition, also cited the official as saying that the newly inked deal, which was brokered by China, would not have an impact on the chances of a normalization deal between Saudi Arabia and Israel.

A day before signing the deal with Iran, Saudi Arabia laid out its demands from the U.S. in return for establishing diplomatic ties with Israel, which would include support for a civilian nuclear program, less restrictions on arms sales, and security guarantees.

However, since the news of the Iranian-Saudi deal broke on Friday, many commentators have seen the development as a win for China that brokered the agreement.

A Wall Street Journal editorial blamed Biden and the Democrats for pushing the Saudis away, forcing them to “hedge” their bets with China.

“The symbolic import is hard to miss as Democrats in Washington do everything they can to harass and annoy the Saudis,” the editorial said.

Iran International cited the Israeli official as saying that it would make an independent decision regarding a strike against Iran’s nuclear program. Israel “is neither dependent on anyone, nor waiting for anyone’s permission,” he said, but added that Israel would welcome support from the U.S. and European partners.

Opposition leader Yair Lapid said the Iran-Saudi deal was a “dangerous” development for Israel and that the blame lay squarely with Netanyahu.

“The agreement between Saudi Arabia and Iran reflects the complete and dangerous failure of the Israeli government’s foreign policy,” Lapid said. “This is what happens when they are dealing with legal malarkey and not on Iran, not on the terror attacks, not on the economy, not the cost of living. All they care about is destroying democracy and tearing the people apart.”

In interview with Iran International a day before the Iran-Saudi deal, Netanyahu said that the primary reason he had returned to office was to ensure that the Islamic Republic was prevented from becoming a nuclear “threshold power.”

Iran’s nuclear program is “the quintessential heart of my foreign policy,” he said, adding, “I came back into government precisely to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear state,” vowing to do “everything possible to prevent it.”

During the interview, which was close to a half hour in length, Netanyahu also addressed Iranian citizens, saying: “We stand with you, I stand with you, most of the world stands with you…don’t lose heart, be strong.”

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