İrem UZUN -TDO- Israeli media reported Monday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu flew to Saudi Arabia for a clandestine meeting with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, which would mark the first known encounter between senior Israeli and Saudi officials. The reported meeting was the latest move by the Trump Administration to promote normalized ties between Israel and the broader Arab world and reflected the shared concern of all three nations about Iran.
The Israeli news site Walla cited an unnamed Israeli official as saying that Netanyahu and Yossi Cohen, head of Mossad, flew to the Saudi city of Neom on Sunday. The prince was there for talks with visiting U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. According to the Wall Street Journal’s report, the adviser said normalization and Iran were discussed at the secret meeting in Saudi Arabia on Sunday. According to political sources, Alternate Prime Minister and Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi were left in the dark about the meeting.
Netanyahu's office, the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem and the Spokesmen for Pompeo had no immediate comment on the reports. Asked 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.” Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister has denied the meeting. “I have seen press reports about a purported meeting between HRH the Crown Prince and Israeli officials during the recent visit by Pompeo. No such meeting occurred. The only officials present were American and Saudi,” Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud wrote on Twitter on Monday.