Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel
welcomes engagement with the wider Arab world (Reuters)
Israel is negotiating an unlikely diplomatic alliance with several Gulf and Arab states, including Saudi Arabia, to tackle Iran's nuclear programme, Israeli media has reported.
High-profile Israeli and Gulf diplomats held a series of meetings overseen by Benjamin Netanyahu in the weeks leading to his speech to the UN General Assembly, Israel's Channel 2 reported.
Channel 2 said a "high ranking official" even came secretly to Israel to address growing concerns on Tehran's nuclear program, following US President Barack Obama's decision to open a dialogue with his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rohani.
Israel officially has no diplomatic relations with Saudi Arabia and any of the Arab states in the Gulf.
"The dangers of a nuclear-armed Iran and the emergence of other threats in our region have led many of our Arab neighbours to recognize, finally recognize, that Israel is not their enemy," Netanyahu told the UN this week.
"And this affords us the opportunity to overcome the historic animosities and build new relationships, new friendships, new hopes.
"Israel welcomes engagement with the wider Arab world. We hope that our common interests and common challenges will help us forge a more peaceful future," Netanyahu added.
The rise of sectarian tensions between Sunni and Shiite Muslims across the Middle East has worsened diplomatic relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia.
The two countries sits on the opposite sides of the Syrian civil war, Saudia Arabia backing Sunni rebel groups and Tehran supporting the regime of Bashar al-Assad.
Saudi Arabia and other Sunni countries, such as Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates have also been vocal opponents of Iran's nuclear program.
Iran is to hold talks with the US and the other permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany in Geneva later this month, to find a diplomatic solution to the nuclear standoff.
Rohani, a recently elected moderate, maintains Tehran's nuclear ambitions are solely peaceful and would like to have Western sanctions that have badly affected Iran's economy lifted.
The talks caused a drift between Israel and the US as Netanyahu believes Washington opening to be a mistake. Rohani's moderate façade hides the Islamic regime crave to become a nuclear power, Netanyahu said.
"I wish I could believe Rouhani, but I don't because facts are stubborn things, and the facts are that Iran's savage record flatly contradicts Rouhani's soothing rhetoric," Netanyahu told the UN.
"Israel will never acquiesce to nuclear arms in the hands of a rogue regime that repeatedly promises to wipe us off the map. Against such a threat, Israel will have no choice but to defend itself," he said. "I want there to be no confusion on this point. Israel will not allow Iran to get nuclear weapons. If Israel is forced to stand alone, Israel will stand alone."
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