By Michael Zeff/TPS
Jerusalem (TPS) – Deputy Minister of Regional Cooperation Ayoob Kara revealed at the Jerusalem Conference on Monday, February 2 that the Israeli government has an interest in pursuing a closer relationship with Sunni states and that Russia is linked to the existential threats against Israel.
The Jerusalem Conference is organized annually by Arutz Sheva, a network affiliated with the religious conservative right wing. The conference tackles political, economic, social, and religious issues in Israel.
The opening panel of the conference featured Deputy Minister Kara as the official representative and voice of the Likud party and the Israeli government.
“The existential threat to Israel does not come from the Islamic State or Sunni Muslims,” Kara declared to the panel. “The existential threat to Israel and the Jews is Shiite; it is Iran, which is backed now and has been backed for a long time by Russia.”
Although Kara blamed Russia, he did not spare the United States from criticism as well, claiming that the US is preventing Israel from making connections with moderate Muslim states.
“The best course of action for Israel to face the Iranian threat as well as that of the Islamic State is through cooperation with the moderate Sunni nations. We need to join a coalition with Saudi Arabia, but it seems that the US does not want that to happen,” elaborated the deputy minister.
These comments raised a few eyebrows and generated some surprised whispers from both the crowd and other members of the panel, which included local media personalities and rabbis.
Deputy Minister Kara later toned down the nature of his comments in an interview with Tazpit Press Service (TPS).
“I did not mean to say that the US is actively and willfully preventing a closer relationship between Israel and Saudi Arabia,” Kara told TPS.
“But the US is ignoring and not helping with steps to bring our countries together, and I think this in itself is a method of preventing Israel from joining the Saudi coalition,” explained Kara.
Deputy Minister Kara confirmed to TPS that Israel shares geopolitical and security interests with the moderate Sunni states and that both sides are seeking to develop strategic and financial cooperation and connections .
“I had a meeting yesterday with Prime Minister Netanyahu and Director-General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Dore Gold and we are working on opening direct channels to Saudi Arabia and to pursue a normalization of relations with other Muslim states,” Kara said.