Riyadh denies Israeli media reports of secret talks between Netanyahu and Mohammed bin Salman
The meeting, a first if confirmed, is said to have taken place yesterday in Neom, a Saudi tourist resort on the Red Sea. Iran and normalisation of relations between the two countries dominated the talks. The US secretary of state and Mossad chief were also present. Officially Riyadh maintains the same line: an agreement will follow a "lasting peace" between Israel and Palestine.
Riyadh (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly met with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in secret yesterday in Saudi Arabia along with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Israeli media reported.
A journalist says flight-tracking data show a business jet previously used by Mr Netanyahu travelled to the Red Sea city of Neom.
Saudi Foreign Ministry denied the report that the crown prince personally met with the Israeli prime minister. "No such meeting occurred," Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud tweeted.
Mr Netanyahu’s office declined to comment on Israeli media reports but the latter appear to be credible.
According to Israeli media, a jet took off from Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion International airport on Sunday afternoon and landed in Neom, on the Red Sea, just after 18:30 GMT and remained there for a few hours, then returned to Tel Aviv via the same route.
From the data provided by FlightRadar24.com, the private plane was a Gulfstream IV, property of Israeli businessman Udi Angel, which Netanyahu uses for overseas travel.
There was no official Israeli confirmation, but an Israeli minister said he had been told about it by the Foreign Ministry.
If this were true, it would be the first known meeting between the leaders of the two historical foes, who are united today in their opposition to Iran, backed by outgoing US President Donald Trump.
The so-called Abraham Accords are the highpoint of US diplomacy under the Trump administration. Israel, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain signed the agreements in mid-September at the White House, later followed by Sudan.
In recent weeks, Trump and Pompeo have insisted that Saudi Arabia also join the accords, but Riyadh – despite the persistent wooing – has refused, demanding as a pre-condition peace between Israelis and Palestinians.
Israeli public broadcaster Kan reported that Mr Netanyahu was accompanied by Mossad chief Yossi Cohen.
A senior Saudi adviser told the Wall Street Journal that the leaders discussed several international issues, including trade, normalisation of ties between Israel and Saudi Arabia and opposition to Iran. No substantial agreements were reached
Now the arrival of a new US administration under President-elect Joe Biden leaves all in limbo.
During the recent G20 summit hosted by Saudi Arabia, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud said that his government reiterated its position that normalisation depended on a permanent peace accord between Israel and Palestine.