Israel is collaborating directly with Saudi Arabia and other Sunni Arab states to combat terrorism, according to CIA Director Mike Pompeo, as well as former CIA Director and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta.

“We’ve seen them work with the Israelis to push back against terrorism throughout the Middle East, to the extent we can continue to develop those relationships and work alongside them — the Gulf states and broader Middle East will likely be more secure,” Pompeo said at the Reagan National Defense Forum in California last Saturday.

Also at the forum, Panetta urged Sunni Arab states to form a military coalition with Israel, the U.S. and Turkey.

“The U.S. can’t do it on our own, obviously the Saudis can’t do it on their own, these other countries can’t do it on their own,” Panetta said. “But together in some kind of coalition of countries — of Arab countries working with the U.S., working with Israel, working with Turkey, to build a strong coalition that can operate — frankly I think with a joint military headquarters that can … target the terrorists in that region, that can basically work together to try to provide stability where is necessary in these countries.”

In late November, Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz revealed that Israel has maintained covert contact with Saudi Arabia regarding Iran and other areas of common interest, marking the first official disclosure of the Jewish state’s developing ties with Riyadh.

“We have ties that are indeed partly covert with many Muslim and Arab countries,” Steinitz told Army Radio. JN