Liberman urges Arab nations to make peace with Israel and confront Iran
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Liberman urges Arab nations to make peace with Israel and confront Iran

Defense minister urges moderate countries to follow the lead of Egyptian president Anwar Sadat, the first Arab leader to make peace

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman looking through binoculars during a visit to the Israel's northern border, November 14, 2017. Ariel Hermoni/Ministry of Defense)
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman looking through binoculars during a visit to the Israel's northern border, November 14, 2017. Ariel Hermoni/Ministry of Defense)

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman on Saturday urged moderate Arab nations to make peace with Israel in order to better confront the threat posed by Iran.

“After Daesh, Iran,” Liberman tweeted on Saturday, referring to the Islamic State by its Arabic name. “[Late Egyptian President] Anwar Sadat was a brave leader, who went against the stream and paved the way for other Arab leaders to recognize the importance of strategic ties with Israel.”

“40 years after his historic visit to Israel, I call on leaders in the region to follow the path of President Sadat, come to Jerusalem and open a new chapter, not just in terms of Israel’s relations with the Arab world, but for the whole region,” Liberman wrote.

Egyptian president Anwar Sadat (L) addresses the Israeli Knesset in Jerusalem, November 20, 1977 (photo credit: Flash90)

Sadat famously flew to Jerusalem ahead of signing the Camp David peace deal with Israel, the first Arab leader to do so. Sadat was later assassinated for his actions.

“The Middle East today needs, more than anything else, a coalition of moderate states against Iran. The coalition against Daesh has finished its work, after Daesh, Iran,” Liberman wrote in remarks that appeared to be directed in part at Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia has in recent days stepped up its efforts to counteract Iran and its proxies in Yemen, and the Hezbollah terror group in Lebanon.

Iran and Saudi Arabia have long been at odds and back feuding Shiite and Sunni forces throughout the region. Although they do not share formal diplomatic ties, Israel has reportedly forged ties with Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states over a shared distrust of Iran.

In recent days this has focused on Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, who resigned while on a trip to Saudi Arabia and had been there since. On Saturday he arrived in France and vowed to return to Beirut by Wednesday.

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri speaks after meeting with French President at the Elysee Presidential Palace on November 18, 2017 in Paris.( AFP PHOTO / Thomas Samson)

Hariri’s resignation was widely seen as an escalation of the battle for influence between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Hariri, a dual Saudi citizen who has previously enjoyed Riyadh’s backing, announced his resignation on November 4.

He said he feared for his life, accusing Iran and Hezbollah of destabilizing his country.

Israel is also concerned that as Islamic State is defeated in Syria and Iraq, Iranian-backed forces are filling the vacuum. Israel also said that a ceasefire deal brokered by the US and Russia does not go far enough in removing Iran from Israel’s border.

Israel said Sunday it will not be bound by the deal, with ministers indicating Israel will continue to operate across the border when it deems it necessary. Israel has repeatedly said it will not tolerate an Iranian presence along the Golan nor allow Iran to entrench itself military in Syria.

The ceasefire agreement, announced in a US-Russian statement last Saturday, affirms a call for “the reduction, and ultimate elimination” of foreign fighters from southern Syria.

The BBC published satellite photos on November 10 said to show the construction of a permanent Iranian military base in Syria.

According to the BBC report, the base is situated at a site used by the Syrian army near El-Kiswah, 14 kilometers (8 miles) south of Damascus, and 50 kilometers (30 miles) from the Israeli border.

Satellite image of alleged Iranian base in Syria from October 2017 (Airbus, Digital Globe and McKenzie Intelligence Services/BBC)

 

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