(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman reacted on Monday afternoon to several Middle Eastern countries' shocking decision to sever ties with Qatar, saying that it served as a great opportunity for Israel to join forces with its neighbors in the battle against Islamic terror.
"Even Arab states understand that the risk to this region is not Israel, bur rather terrorism- this is an opportunity to collaborate," he stated.
Speaking at the Knesset, Liberman said that countries that cut ties with Qatar out of fear of radical Islamic terrorism are actually enabling Israel to reach out to them to cooperate in the fight against terror.
"I think Israel is open to cooperation," the defense minister said. "The ball is in the others' court," he continued, implying that Israel would wait for other Arab countries to reach out to it following their abrupt decision Monday.
The Sunni countries' decision to disconnect from Qatar will have a dramatic influence on Israel, Labor leadership candidate Omer Bar Lev said Monday, echoing Liberman's assessment.
Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Yemen severed their ties with the wealthy Gulf nation, accusing Doha of supporting terrorism. Bar Lev, who was a colonel in the IDF, said the Sunni states took action due to pressure from US president Donald Trump, and Israel will soon have to do the same.
"The Arab world is marching to Trump's flute, and soon Netanyahu's government will also have to justify the 3.8 billion dollars in American military aid and folow his orders," Bar Lev said. "The right-wing government is waiting in panic for the American initiative, which is the only possible diplomatic horizon. In light of Trump's initiative, it is only a matter of time before the security vacuum will end."
Bar Lev said Qatar fuels Hamas and other Islamic fundamentalist terror groups while also giving money that goes through Israel for rehabilitaing Gaza.
"It is better that Qatar go through Israel rather than becoming a laboratory for terror," he said.
Gulf nations cut ties with Qatar (credit: REUTERS)
Michael Oren (Kulanu), a former Israeli ambassador to the US, said Monday that the decision of several Arab Muslim states to cut diplomatic ties with Qatar served as a "New line drawn in the Middle Eastern sand."
The American-born Israeli historian added that the move stood as a turning point in the region, in which Israel was no longer solely pitted against Arab states, but now Israel and Arabs nations alike were unified in efforts "against Qatar-financed terror."
Zionist Union MK Eyal Ben-Reuven, who is a former IDF major-general, said the Qatar decision indicated Israel's shared interests with the moderate Arab world that also opposes Iran.
"Israel should take advantage of this unity for its struggle against Iran, the world's central exporter of terror," Ben-Reuven said. "This circle enables different relations with Arab countries, but its price is real steps to solve the Palestinian probem."
Likud MK Oren Hazan wrote on Twitter that "if countries like Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and the Emirates have woken up about Qatar and terror, the time has come for our realist leftists to do the same." He posted a picture of Zionist Union MK Tzipi Livni at the Doha Conference in Qatar, without noting that the picture was taken when she was foreign minister in 2008. Lahav Harkov and JPost.com Staff contributed to this report.