Danny Danon
Danny Danon Yoni Kempinski

Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon says that Israel enjoys warm relations with many Arab countries despite the fact that these countries officially refuse to recognize Israel's existence.

"They still do not vote with us, but I can say that we have a relationship with them," Danon told Ynet. "We are talking about a dozen Islamic countries, including the Arab countries that understand the potential of relations with Israel. The State of Israel is not the regional problem, it is the regional solution, so we are strengthening this cooperation."

Danon also said that US Ambassador Nikki Haley has dramatically "changed the atmosphere" at the UN. "Even on issues where it is clear that the Arabs have a majority against us, the United States insists on the moral majority, such as the scandalous decision that allows each year to fund anti-Israel propaganda activities for $6 million in the framework of the UN Palestine conference," said Danon, referring to a recent UN decision to earmark millions in order to assist the Palestinian Authority (PA) in waging its diplomatic war against Israel.

Israel has long been known to have covert relations with Arab countries despite their ostensible anti-Israel stance. Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz revealed last week that Israel had covert ties with "many" Arab and Muslim states, but added it is obliged not to name them at the other sides' request.

"We have ties, some of them secret, with many Arab and Muslim states," Steinitz told Army Radio. "Usually the one who wants those ties to be discreet is the other side," he added, in response to a question about whether the ties are with Saudi Arabia.

"We respect the wishes of the other side when contacts are developing, whether it is with Saudi Arabia or other Arab or Muslim countries," said Steinitz.

Saudi Arabia has been rumored to be particularly close with Israel due to the two countries common fear of Iran. The Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar reported last 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 Palestinian Authority, but lead to recognition of the Jewish state by the larger Arab world.

However, the report was hotly denied by Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir, who said that "There are no relations between Saudi Arabia and Israel."