Benjamin Netanyahu flew to Saudi Arabia for secret talks with MBS, Mike Pompeo: Reports

The reported meeting comes weeks after Israel agreed to historic US-brokered deals to normalise ties with two Saudi allies in the Gulf: the UAE and Bahrain

Agence France-Presse November 23, 2020 18:45:47 IST
Benjamin Netanyahu flew to Saudi Arabia for secret talks with MBS, Mike Pompeo: Reports

File Image of Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. AP

Jerusalem: Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held secret talks in Saudi Arabia on Sunday with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, media said, in the first reported trip by an Israeli premier to the kingdom.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who was in Israel last week, was also at the reported talks, a diplomatic correspondent at Israeli public broadcaster Kan said on Monday.

The broadcaster cited unnamed Israeli officials as saying that Netanyahu and the head of the Mossad spy agency, Yossi Cohen, "flew yesterday to Saudi Arabia and met Pompeo and MBS in the city of Neom", referring to the often used initials of Prince Mohammed.

The reported meeting comes weeks after Israel agreed to a historic US-brokered deals to normalise ties with two Saudi allies in the Gulf, the UAE and Bahrain — pacts known as the Abraham Accords.

Multiple other Israeli media outlets reported on a Netanyahu trip to Saudi Arabia, including prominent diplomatic correspondent Barak Ravid of Walla News and Axios, who reported Netanyahu and Cohen flew on a plane belonging to Israeli businessman Udi Angel.

Ravid also cited flight tracker data that apparently showed Angel's plane leaving Israel at 8:00 pm (1800 GMT) on Sunday, heading to Neom on the Red Sea and returning to Israel five hours later.

Netanyahu's office was not immediately available to comment on the reports.

The Saudi royal court and media ministry did not immediately respond to AFP's request for comment on the reported meeting between Netanyahu, Prince Mohamed and Pompeo.

Pompeo had travelled to Neom on Sunday from the UAE as part of a Middle East tour.

The Abraham Accords were brokered by outgoing US President Donald Trump's administration.

US and Israeli officials have repeatedly indicated that more Arab states were set to forge ties with Israel. Sudan has agreed to do so in principle.

In late August, Netanyahu said Israel was holding secret talks with multiple Arab countries.

Publicly, Saudi Arabia has said it would stick to the decades-old Arab League position of not having ties with Israel until the Jewish state's conflict with the Palestinians is resolved.

Israeli experts have raised questions about the prospects of expanding the Abraham Accords under US President-elect Joe Biden's administration, particularly with respect to Saudi Arabia.

Trump's administration downplayed the role of human rights in international diplomacy, and in particular was cautious about criticising Saudi Arabia's rights record, notably over the murder by Saudi agents of prominent journalist and Saudi royal critic Jamal Khashoggi.

Multiple Israeli analysts have said that a Biden administration, which will face pressure from the progressive left in the Democratic Party, would suffer a backlash if it pushed for an Israeli-Saudi peace deal without any meaningful rights reforms agreed by Saudi Arabia.

With Trump's term set to end on 20 January, some Israeli experts have speculated that Washington would lobby hard for an Israeli-Saudi deal before Biden takes office.

Israel and the Arab Gulf state have engaged in quiet diplomacy for years over their common foe Iran.

 

Updated Date:

Find latest and upcoming tech gadgets online on Tech2 Gadgets. Get technology news, gadgets reviews & ratings. Popular gadgets including laptop, tablet and mobile specifications, features, prices, comparison.

also read

President-elect Joe Biden picks William Burns as CIA chief; career diplomat set stage for Iran nuclear deal
World

President-elect Joe Biden picks William Burns as CIA chief; career diplomat set stage for Iran nuclear deal

Burns has deep experience in security and intelligence matters after spending over three decades in the US foreign service, including a stint as ambassador to Russia from 2005 to 2008

With Republican support cracking, President Donald Trump on brink of unprecedented second impeachment
World

With Republican support cracking, President Donald Trump on brink of unprecedented second impeachment

In the House, the number three Republican Liz Cheney said she would be voting to impeach, and called Trump's actions "a betrayal" of his office

Day after Donald Trump tape leaks, Barack Obama says ‘fundamental principles' of US democracy are under threat
World

Day after Donald Trump tape leaks, Barack Obama says ‘fundamental principles' of US democracy are under threat

The former US president made the remarks on the eve of the crucial elections in Georgia where both the seats, and ultimately the control of the Senate, are up for grabs