Israeli PM Netanyahu met Saudi crown prince, Pompeo in Saudi Arabia on Sunday

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Israeli PM Netanyahu met Saudi crown prince, Pompeo in Saudi Arabia on Sunday
Israeli PM Netanyahu met Saudi crown prince, Pompeo in Saudi Arabia on Sunday
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Israeli minister confirms meeting

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu secretly traveled to Saudi Arabia on Sunday to meet Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and visiting US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Israel’s Kan public radio and Army Radio said on Monday.

If confirmed, it will be the first officially recognized trip by an Israeli leader to the country which has historically supported the Palestinian cause and shunned any official ties with Israel.

Pompeo has been seeking to coax the Gulf superpower to join its rivals, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, in forming formal ties with Israel, as US President Donald Trump’s term winds down.

The office of Netanyahu and the US Embassy in Jerusalem did not have an immediate comment on the news.

Saudi state media made no note of any visit by Netanyahu, and Reuters inquiries were not immediately addressed by the Saudi government’s media office.

The rapprochement between Israel and the Gulf States is primarily focused on common worries regarding Iran — and, likely, whether US President-elect Joe Biden will revisit the regional policies of Washington.

Data from Flight Monitoring

Mossad chief Joseph (Yossi) Cohen, who has spearheaded covert diplomatic outreach to Gulf Arab nations, joined Netanyahu on his Saudi tour, Israeli media outlets reported, citing anonymous Israeli officials.
So far, Riyadh has refused to normalize relations with Israel. But it has allowed Israeli airliners to overfly Saudi territories to newly accessible Gulf and Asian destinations since August.

Israel’s Haaretz newspaper’s Avi Scharf released aviation monitoring data showing that a business jet had made a short trip from Tel Aviv to Neom, on the Red Sea coast of Saudi Arabia, where on Sunday bin Salman and Pompeo had a planned meeting.

More openly closing ranks with the Saudi Crown Prince could help the conservative Netanyahu burnish his credentials as a statesman as he fights domestic problems, including a corruption allegations trial he rejects, and a feud with Israel’s defense minister, centrist coalition partner Benny Gantz.

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“Gantz does politics while the prime minister makes peace,” Netanyahu spokesperson Topaz Luk tweeted. Asked on Saturday whether Riyadh had changed its stance on Israel, the foreign minister of Saudi Arabia said the kingdom had backed “for a long time” complete normalization of relations, but on condition that Israel and the Palestinians enter “a permanent and full peace deal”

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