Yisrael Katz, Israel’s Minister of Intelligence, spoke with a Saudi newspaper about the Iranian threat, Iran’s presence in Syria and the notion of Saudi Arabia acting as a mediator in the peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.

Katz, bin Salman

Katz, bin Salman Photo Credit: Miriam Alster, Flash 90/Reuters/Channel 2 News

Israel’s Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz told Elaph, a Saudi newspaper, on Tuesday that Israel would agree to peace negotiations led by Saudi Arabia and invited Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to visit Israel.

In the interview – the first-ever of an Israeli minister to a Saudi media outlet – Katz also called on Saudi Arabia’s King Salman to invite Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to his country.

“The Americans are forming a peace plan, but they’re not telling us what it includes,” Katz said. “They say they will come up with something ‘creative’ and that they will not impose any deal. I think this is an opportunity for Saudi Arabia to take initiative.”

“They said that they will put forward an option but not enforce it and I think this is an opportunity,” he continued. “I recommend that Saudi Arabia, as the leader of the Arab world, take the initiative upon itself and come to the Palestinians and offer its sponsorship. In such a situation of Saudi leadership, I’m ready to have negotiations. I’m calling on King Salman to invite Netanyahu for a visit and on the Saudi crown prince to come here for a visit in Israel.”

Katz also mentioned US President Donald Trump’s declaration regarding Jerusalem’s status. “Trump confirmed the connection between Israel and Jerusalem, between the Jewish people and Jerusalem, meaning that he acknowledged the existing reality and didn’t change it,” he explained. “He didn’t change the status of the East Jerusalem residents.”

He also commented on the Iranian presence along Israel’s northern border and the message Tehran is trying to send to Israel by establishing itself in Syria and Lebanon. “We don’t need any message. We know very well what Iran is doing and what its intentions are,” he stressed. “The message is for Lebanon’s government. We’ve always said that Hezbollah is the problem and that it is endangering the stability in Lebanon. Iran is actually threatening Lebanon’s government.”