• Saturday, Nov 27, 2021
  • Last Update : 01:37 am

Israeli PM visits Saudi Arabia, meets with MBS and Pompeo

  • Published at 03:08 pm November 23rd, 2020
Pompeo Netanyahu
File photo: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, left, and Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu make a joint statement after meeting in Jerusalem on November 19, 2020 AFP

Saudi foreign minister denies prince met Netanyahu


Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu travelled to Saudi Arabia and met its crown prince, an Israeli official said on Monday, in what would be the first publicly confirmed visit there by an Israeli leader as the countries close ranks against Iran.

Earlier, Israeli media said Netanyahu had secretly flown on Sunday to Neom, on the Red Sea, for talks with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Reports of the meeting between the crown prince and Netanyahu were denied by Saudi Arabia's foreign minister, Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud.

"I met Pompeo at the airport and went with him to the meeting. I then took him back to the airport. Saudi and American officials were the only ones present throughout," he said.

Saudi Arabia, Islam's birthplace, has long championed the Palestinian cause and shunned official contacts with Israel.

Netanyahu, speaking publicly after the Saudi denial, was circumspect about any clandestine travel.

Asked at a meeting of his right-wing Likud faction about a Saudi visit, Netanyahu replied: "Are you serious? Friends, throughout my years I have never commented on such things and I don't intend to start doing so now."

Spokesmen for Pompeo declined comment.

But asked about the Israeli media reports, Yoav Gallant, a member of Netanyahu's security cabinet, told Army Radio: "The very fact the meeting happened, and was outed publicly, even if half-officially right now, is a matter of great importance."

Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz, in a speech, condemned "the irresponsible leak of the secret flight to Saudi Arabia."


Also read: Saudi denies reported talks between Crown Prince, Netanyahu


Signal to Biden?

Netanyahu, in an apparent message to US President-elect Joe Biden, said in a speech on Sunday there should be no return to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal abandoned by President Donald Trump.

As Trump's term winds down, Pompeo has been trying to coax Saudi Arabia to follow the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan in moving toward formal diplomatic relations with Israel.

Israel sent a delegation to Sudan on Monday, according to Israeli media. Israeli and Sudanese officials did not comment.

Israel and its Gulf partners may share concern about a possible review of US policies in the region by Biden, who takes office on January 20. Biden has said he would rejoin the nuclear accord that world powers signed with Iran if it first resumed strict compliance with the deal, and would work with allies to strengthen its terms.

Since August, Riyadh has allowed Israeli airliners to overfly Saudi territory to newly available Gulf destinations and Asia. More publicly closing ranks with the Saudi crown prince could help the conservative Netanyahu burnish his statesman credentials as he faces domestic challenges.

They include a trial on corruption charges - which Netanyahu, Israel's longest-serving prime minister, denies - and a feud with centrist coalition partner Gantz.

"Gantz does politics while the prime minister makes peace," Netanyahu spokesman Topaz Luk tweeted.

Asked on Saturday whether Riyadh had changed its position on Israel, Saudi Arabia's foreign minister said the kingdom had favoured normalisation "for a long time", but on condition Israel and the Palestinians reach "a permanent and full peace deal."

Palestinian militant groups condemned the news of a softer Saudi line on their enemy, Israel. Palestinian Islamic Jihad called it "a betrayal of Jerusalem, blessed Mecca and Medina."

52
Facebook 51
blogger sharing button blogger
buffer sharing button buffer
diaspora sharing button diaspora
digg sharing button digg
douban sharing button douban
email sharing button email
evernote sharing button evernote
flipboard sharing button flipboard
pocket sharing button getpocket
github sharing button github
gmail sharing button gmail
googlebookmarks sharing button googlebookmarks
hackernews sharing button hackernews
instapaper sharing button instapaper
line sharing button line
linkedin sharing button linkedin
livejournal sharing button livejournal
mailru sharing button mailru
medium sharing button medium
meneame sharing button meneame
messenger sharing button messenger
odnoklassniki sharing button odnoklassniki
pinterest sharing button pinterest
print sharing button print
qzone sharing button qzone
reddit sharing button reddit
refind sharing button refind
renren sharing button renren
skype sharing button skype
snapchat sharing button snapchat
surfingbird sharing button surfingbird
telegram sharing button telegram
tumblr sharing button tumblr
twitter sharing button twitter
vk sharing button vk
wechat sharing button wechat
weibo sharing button weibo
whatsapp sharing button whatsapp
wordpress sharing button wordpress
xing sharing button xing
yahoomail sharing button yahoomail