Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman (Yisrael Beytenu) on Saturday urged Arab leaders to follow in the footsteps of the late Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, who visited Israel 40 years ago, and work to achieve peace agreements with Israel.
Sadat became the first Arab leader to hold an official visit to Israel, when he met with then-Prime Minister Menachem Begin on November 19, 1977. He also spoke before the Knesset about his views on how to achieve a comprehensive peace agreement. Two years later, in 1979, Israel and Egypt formally signed a peace treaty.
“Anwar Sadat was a courageous leader who stood against the tide and paved the way for other Arab leaders to recognize the importance of the strategic relationship with the State of Israel,” Liberman wrote on Facebook.
“40 years after his historic visit to Israel, I call on the leaders of the region to follow President Sadat, come to Jerusalem and open a new page, not only in Israel's relations with the Arab world, but in the region as a whole. The Middle East needs, more than anything else, a coalition of moderate countries against Iran. The coalition against ISIS has run its course. After ISIS - Iran!” he added.
While Liberman did not mention any specific country by name, his post comes amid reports of rapprochement between Israel and Saudi Arabia.
The Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar reported this past week that the Saudi government is weighing the possible normalization of relations with Israel ahead of a planned Middle East peace program by the Trump administration which aims to not only secure a final status agreement between Israel and the PA, but lead to recognition of the Jewish state by the larger Arab world.
The newspaper's report was based on a letter it alleged was sent from Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman.
On Thursday, the British Daily Mail newspaper reported that Saudi King Salman plans to step down and announce his son as his successor within a week. The report said that once the Crown Prince becomes king, he would enlist the help of the Israeli military to crush Hezbollah, Iran's proxy in Lebanon.
The report cited an unnamed Saudi source and was not officially confirmed.
Also on Thursday, IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot gave a rare interview to Elaph, a Saudi newspaper based in London, in which he called for a new regional coalition to counter Iran's growing influence and threats in the Middle East.
Recent reports indicated that a senior member of the Saudi royal family, perhaps even the crown prince himself, held high-level talks with Israeli officials during a clandestine trip to the Jewish state.
Saudi Arabia vehemently denied the reports, saying they were unfounded.