Report: Saudis to overlook Israeli jets headed to Iran
Sunday Times says Saudi officials have agreed in secret talks with Mossad chief to turn blind eye to Israeli planes flying over kingdom during any future raid on Iranian nuclear sites. According to report, PM briefed on matter. Israel: Reports unfounded
Saudi Arabia has agreed to turn a blind eye to Israeli jets flying over the kingdom during any future raid on Iran’s nuclear sites, British newspaper Sunday Times says.
According to the report, Mossad Director Meir Dagan held secret talks with Saudi officials earlier this year to discuss the possibility, and has briefed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the matter.
The Prime Minister's Office denied the report Sunday morning, saying that Israel had no agreement with Saudi Arabia on allowing jets to fly over its territory on the way to a strike in Iran.
"The reports are erroneous and unfounded," the PM's Office said in a statement.
A diplomatic source told the British newspaper last week that “the Saudis have tacitly agreed to the Israel Air Force flying through their airspace on a mission which is supposed to be in the common interests of both Israel and Saudi Arabia."
Although the countries have no formal diplomatic relations, an Israeli defense source confirmed to the Sunday Times that Mossad maintained “working relations” with the Saudis.
According to the report, recent riots in Iran following a disputed presidential election and the instability in the country have underscored concerns among moderate Sunni Arab states that it may emerge as a belligerent nuclear power.
“The Saudis are very concerned about an Iranian nuclear bomb, even more than the Israelis,” a former head of research in Israeli intelligence told the newspaper.
Former US Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton, who recently visited the Gulf, said it was “entirely logical” for the Israelis to use Saudi airspace.
Bolton, who talked to several Arab leaders during his visit, added that “none of them would say anything about it publicly but they would certainly acquiesce in an overflight if the Israelis didn’t trumpet it as a big success.”
According to Bolton, Arab states would condemn a raid when they spoke at the UN but would be privately relieved to see the threat of an Iranian bomb removed.
The former American ambassador also referred to the Israeli strike on an alleged Syrian nuclear facility in 2007, adding that "to this day, the Israelis haven’t admitted the specifics but there’s one less nuclear facility in Syria . . .”
Roni Sofer contributed to this report