Report: Israel sold $250m. of sophisticated spy systems to Saudi Arabia
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/REUTERS)
These are the most sophisticated systems Israel has ever sold to any Arab country.
Saudi Arabia and Israel held secret meetings which led to an estimated $250-million deal, including the transfer of Israeli espionage technologies to the kingdom, Israeli media reported on Sunday, citing an exclusive report by the United Arab Emirate news website Al-Khaleej.
Some of the spy systems, which are the most sophisticated systems Israel has ever sold to any Arab country, have already been transferred to Saudi Arabia and put into use after a Saudi technical team received training in operating them, the report added.
The exclusive report also revealed that the two countries exchanged strategic military information in the meetings, which were conducted in Washington and London through a European mediator.
Such cooperation would not be the first of its kind between Israel and Saudi Arabia.
In September, Al-Khaleej reported that Saudi Arabia had purchased Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system to defend itself from Houthi missile attacks.
The deal, which was reportedly mediated by the United States included further plans to reach an agreement on broad military cooperation between the two countries.
While Israel has no official ties with Saudi Arabia, the relationship with the Sunni kingdom and other Gulf states has grown stronger in recent years, due in large part to the shared threat of Iran’s expansion across the region.
IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot met with his counterparts from several Arab countries, including Saudi Arabia’s Chief of Staff Gen. Fayyad bin Hamed Al-Ruwaili, in mid-October while in Washington for the Countering Violent Extremist Organizations Conference for military commanders.
While this seemed to be the first publicized meeting between Eisenkot and Al-Ruwaili, it was the second consecutive year the two attended the military commanders’ conference.
Last November, following Eisenkot’s first participation in the conference, he offered to share Israeli intelligence about Iran with Riyadh, telling the Saudi newspaper Elaph in an unprecedented interview that what he heard from the Saudis about Iranian expansion was “identical” to Israeli concerns.
Anna Ahronheim contributed to this report.