Israel has not received any messages from the U.S. about Saudi Arabia's intentions to intercept Israeli planes flying through its airspace en route to Iran, Defense Minister Ehud Barak told Israel Radio on Thursday.
Barak was responding to earlier reports that Saudi Arabia had informed Israel, via a message sent to Washington, that it would intercept Israeli planes entering its airspace en route to an attack on Iran.
The defense minister denied that Israel had been informed of the Saudi intentions, but noted that "Saudi Arabia is a sovereign state that is permitted to act based on its own understanding."
Some Israeli officials believe the U.S. is trying to use the Saudi threat as a way to discourage Israel from launching an attack on Iran's nuclear sites.
Barak told Israel Radio: "We should not react or respond to these reports. The issue of attacking Iran is too important to let a report like this decide in which direction it goes."
He also told Israel Radio that recent progress in Israeli and U.S. intelligence on Iran's nuclear program would now make confronting Iran a more urgent matter.
Although there are differences between Israel and the U.S. over the practical conclusions to be drawn from the intelligence information, Barak said, the media had intensified the differences.
"We and the Americans agreed not to allow Iran to develop nuclear weapons, and all the options are on the table. But ultimately it is the Israeli government alone that will make decisions regarding Israel's national security and its future," Barak said.
He also emphasized that if he and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu decided to attack Iran, the issue would be submitted for cabinet approval. "Reports in the media making it seem as if only two people are sitting together and hatching plans for an attack [on Iran] are utterly ridiculous," Barak said.
Commenting on Sunday's terror attack in the SinaiPeninsula which killed 16 Egyptian soldiers, Barak said Egypt could confront the deteriorating security situation in the area, but only time will tell if it would. indeed do so.