Iranian President Hassan Rouhani called on all the Muslims on Tuesday to rattle what he called a plot by some countries in the region to build and improve ties with Israel. He provided no more details on the states. But an Israeli cabinet minister said last month that his government had had covert contacts with Saudi Arabia linked to their common concerns over Tehran.
“Some regional Islamic countries have shamelessly revealed their closeness to the Zionist regime,” Rouhani said in a speech broadcast live by state TV. “I am sure that the Muslims around the world will not let this sinister plot bear fruit.”
Both Saudi Arabia and Israel see Iran as the main nemesis to the Middle East. The increased tension between Tehran and Riyadh has incited speculation that shared interests may push Saudi Arabia and Israel to work together. The Saudis have not given a public response to the reports and Riyadh insists that any relations with Israel depend on the Israeli withdrawal from Arab lands captured in the 1967 Middle East war – territory Palestinians seek for a future state.
Regional rivalry between Sunni Muslim monarchy Saudi Arabia and Shi’ite Iran has overflowed into conflicts in Syria and Iraq. A Saudi-led military coalition has also been fighting in the Arabian peninsula’s poorest country, Yemen, on behalf of a government based in the south against the Houthis, a Shi’ite movement backed by Iran.