Deputy Regional Cooperation Minister Ayoub Kara (Likud) spoke to Arutz Sheva Wednesday ahead of his trip to Geneva, where he will meet key Arab leaders to discuss regional cooperation against common threats – specifically an emboldened and increasingly aggressive Iran.
According to informed sources, among those Kara will be meeting are members of the Syrian opposition – although Kara himself would not be drawn on the matter.
Speaking to Arutz Sheva from the Knesset, Kara said facing down Iran and its ever-expanding army of terrorist proxies requires Israel to cooperate with those among its neighbors who feel equally threatened. Strategic alliances, he emphasized repeatedly, are the essence of Middle Eastern realpolitik.
Whoever views Iran as their enemy "is a friend of ours," said Kara. "They don't need to be Jewish," he added, pointing towards the Saudi-led Sunni Arab coalition as an important potentially ally with whom he is currently pushing the Israeli government to engage with.
Kara also stressed that Iran's ambitions stretch far beyond the Middle East. "Iran is not dangerous just for this region" but for the entire world, he stated, noting the Islamic Republics support of global terrorism and its openly-stated goal of establishing an international Shia Islamic Empire.
"They will continue to Europe," he warned of the Iranian regime. "They think that the solution for the world is Islamization."
Kara lamented that many western and other observers had been won over by the Iranian regime's double speak – saying one thing in English, and another thing to its audiences back home and allies in the Arab world.
In Israel, however, he expressed optimism that leaders had woken up to the importance of and potential for a regional alliance against Iran.
"At the beginning I was alone… now I hear the prime minister with the same policy, the Minister of Defense (Moshe) Yaalon in the same position.
"In Saudi Arabia… the Gulf States, Jordan, Egypt, north Africa – all of them understand that Israel is not their enemy; Iran is their enemy."
As the only native Arabic speaker in the current Israeli government, Kara – who is a member of Israel's Druze minority and a veteran Likud legislator – has has also pioneered Israel's covert relations with Syria's moderate Sunni opposition. He has also played a key role in building bridges between Israel and Syria's own Druze community, which, though once loyal to Assad, has in recent years increasingly moved away from the regime – and, even more recently, been given direct protection by Israel against both encroaching jihadists and a vengeful Assad regime.
During his trip to Geneva – together with Regional Cooperation Ministry Director General Hashem Hussein – Kara will also be holding a series of meetings to advance the establishment of a regional training center for dealing with emergency situations, and to consider the possibility of holding an international conference on regional cooperation with the participation of Israel and other regional states.
Deputy Minister Kara is also due to meet with UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) Director Adam Bouloukos, whose agency operates out of Cairo, to discuss how Israel can contribute its experience and capabilities to assist UNISDR in countries in the region.
Kara will present his plans for integrating Israel into UNISDR's regional and international activities, including the establishment of the aforesaid regional center, and is expected to call for the holding of a regional cooperation conference in Israel, with the participation of Arab states, in conjunction with HORASIS, to promote economic and commercial relations between Israel and other regional countries. To his end, the Deputy Minister will meet with HORASIS Chairman Dr. Frank-Jurgen Richter.
In a statement issued by his office, Kara said that Israel's neighbors would benefit exponentially from Israel's expertise and advanced technology in the field of disaster relief.
"The knowledge and experience of the State of Israel in dealing with emergency situations make it a world leader," he said. "It is my intention to work towards sharing this knowledge in order to save lives in other regional countries and meet humanitarian needs.
"I am also committed to advancing commercial relations between Israel and its neighbors based on the conviction that all peoples of the region can benefit therefrom. If we join together the comparative advantages of the countries in the region we will be able to establish a leading economic bloc and contribute toward peace and stability for the comprehensive benefit of residents in the Middle East and beyond."