Israeli army spokesman gets byline in Saudi outlet Elaph

Israeli army spokesman Avichay Adraee gets byline in Saudi news outlet Elaph
2 min read
14 Dec, 2017
A news website has become the first mainstream Saudi outlet to run an article co-written by a serving Israeli army officer, adding further credence to reports of growing Saudi-Israeli relations.
Adraee is a controversial figure often justifying Israel's brutal tactics to hostile Arab audiences [Youtube]
A news website has become the first mainstream Saudi outlet to run an article co-written by a serving Israeli army officer, adding further credence to reports of growing Saudi-Israeli relations.

On Tuesday, Saudi online news service Elaph ran an anti-Hamas article co-authored by Maj. Avichay Adraee, the Israeli army spokesman in Arabic.

The article described Hamas repeatedly as a terror group, a label contested by the vast majority of Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims who accept the Palestinian militant group as a legitimate resistance against occupation.

Although Elaph is blocked in Saudi Arabia, it is believed the website operates with Riyadh's blessing as an Israeli backchannel into the Arab media landscape. 

On Wednesday, Elaph  ran an interview with Israel's intelligence minister, who then invited Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to visit Israel.

After the interview was published, Elaph decided against including the invitation in its article and had quickly edited it out, but not before other media outlets took notice.

Israeli Haaretz newspaper spoke to Katz, who confirmed that he had invited bin Salman.

"He said that he asks the king to invite (Prime Minister Binyamin) Netanyahu officially to Riyadh, and he asks MbS, Mohammed bin Salman, the son, to come and visit Israel," Katz' spokesman Arye Shalicar said.

In the interview Katz hailed Saudi Arabia as the "leader of the Arab world" and said that the kingdom has a place in the Israeli-Palestinian peace initiative.

Elaph has previously interviewed several high-level Israeli figures, including a former defence minister and deputy foreign minister.

Saudi Arabia and Israel do not have official relations but various reports have recently emerged of co-operation between the two countries, who share a common foe in Iran.

Despite Saudi King Salman warning US President Donald Trump against the controversial move to declare the capital of Israel as Jerusalem instead of Tel Aviv, domestically, they are trying to calm the extent in which Israel is criticised in Saudi media.

Saudi Arabia last week ordered media outlets in the kingdom to not focus "too much attention" on Washington's controversial decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital, sources have said.

The Saudi royal court sent a "severe warning" to bosses of newspapers, television and radio stations about the issue which has sparked protests across the Arab world, sources told The New Arab.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, they added that the directive ordered media to instead "take aim at Iran and other regional countries" in its coverage rather than focusing on Israel.