Netanyahu met MBS, Pompeo in Saudi Arabia: Israeli media | Middle East


Reports say Netanyahu flew to Saudi Arabia for a clandestine meeting with the Saudi crown prince and US secretary of state.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu secretly flew to Saudi Arabia on Sunday to meet Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) and the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, several Israeli sources said.

Israel’s Kan public radio and Army Radio on Monday said Mossad chief Yossi Cohen also attended the meeting.

Netanyahu’s office and the United States’ embassy in Jerusalem had no immediate comment. There has also been no comment from the Saudi government.

According to Israeli daily Haaretz, aviation tracking data showed that a private jet had made a brief trip from Tel Aviv to Neom on Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea coast, where MBS and Pompeo had a scheduled meeting on Sunday.

Flight-tracking websites showed that the plane was grounded for approximately two hours before it returned to Israel at about half past midnight.

The jet, according to Haaretz, is the same private plane Netanyahu took several times for his visits to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Normalisation

Pompeo has tried to coax the Gulf powerhouse to follow its neighbours, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain, in establishing formal relations with Israel – a rapprochement built largely on shared concerns over Iran.

Riyadh has so far declined to normalise ties with Israel, saying Palestinian statehood goals should be addressed first. But the Saudis have allowed Israeli airliners to overfly their territory to newly available Gulf destinations and to Asia.

Over the weekend, Saudi Foreign Minister, Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud, said his country has “supported normalisation with Israel for a long time, but one very important thing must happen first: a permanent and full peace deal between Israelis and Palestinians”.

During a meeting with the Saudi foreign minister last month, Pompeo had urged the Saudis to consider normalising relations with Israel.

“We hope Saudi Arabia will consider normalising its relationships as well, and we want to thank them for the assistance they’ve had in the success of the Abraham Accords so far,” Pompeo said.



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