Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman said that Arab states’ decision to cut ties with Qatar, accusing it of backing extremism, could herald a broad anti-terror alliance including Israel.
“There is no doubt that this opens very many possibilities of cooperation in the struggle against terror,” Lieberman told the Israeli parliament in a televised question-and-answer session.
The crisis is “not because of Israel, not because of Jews, not because of Zionism,” but “rather from fears of terrorism,” Liberman added.
“We saw the United States president visit Saudi Arabia and he spoke first and foremost about a coalition against terror,” he said in a reference to Donald Trump’s trip last month.
“The state of Israel is really open to cooperation. The ball at the moment is on the other side,” he added.
Opposition leader Isaac Herzog also addressed the Qatar rift, urging Israel to push for a regional peace process now that the moderate states have “cut ties with a country that funds terrorism against the Western world and Israel in particular.”
“Now is the time to show leadership and head toward a brave regional effort,” said Herzog.
On Monday, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the UAE, Yemen, Bahrain and the Maldives all severed diplomatic ties with Doha. Some also cut transport links.
The Qatar Council issued a fresh statement seeking to reassure its citizens that it had taken the necessary steps to ensure normal life continued, including by keeping sea ports open for trade and making sure that air space with countries not involved in the boycott remained open. It said it would not expel the 300,000 Egyptians working in Qatar as a reprisal.
Saudi Arabia said in a statement its measures were the result of “gross violations committed by authorities in Qatar”, accusing Doha of harbouring “terrorist and sectarian groups that aim to destabilise the region.