National security adviser talks Iran at White House with US counterpart

Robert O’Brien tells Meir Ben-Shabbat that ‘common interests between Israel and Arab states… have made new regional partnerships possible to counter Iran’

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The Times of Israel– Israel’s national security adviser was hosted Wednesday at the White House by his US counterpart for talks dealing with Iran.

A joint statement issued after the meeting said Robert O’Brien stressed America’s “unwavering commitment to Israel’s security” to Meir Ben-Shabbat and that the United States wanted to strengthen defense ties between the countries.

“The two agreed to continue close coordination on countering Iran’s destabilizing influence and activities in the region, as well as monitoring the ramifications of unrest within Iran,” the statement said.

They also discussed Syria, Iraq and Lebanon, all of which have ties to Iran.

O’Brien noted “common interests between Israel and Arab states… have made new regional partnerships possible to counter Iran’s malign influence,” according to the statement.

While Egypt and Jordan are the only Arab countries Israel has diplomatic ties with, relations between Jerusalem and a number of other countries in the region have warmed in recent years over shared concerns about Iran.

According to a report earlier this month from the Axios website, a senior White House official has urged several Arab states in the Middle East to sign non-belligerence agreements with Israel as a step toward normalizing relations with the Jewish state.

Citing “Israeli, Arab and US sources,” Axios said the US administration’s deputy national security adviser Victoria Coates met in November with ambassadors to Washington from four Arab nations — the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Morocco and Bahrain — and said the US would support the move.

The meetings sought to gauge the willingness to upgrade relations with Israel among the four countries, the report said. All have maintained increasingly robust strategic and intelligence ties with Israel, a link bolstered by a common view of Iran as a shared regional foe.

The initiative was first proposed by Foreign Minister Israel Katz, who revealed in October he had been pushing such non-aggression treaties with several Arab countries in the Gulf, a “historic” démarche he said could end the conflict between Jerusalem and those states.