Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu secretly met yesterday with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, report Israeli media. As far as we know, it would be the first time that Saudi and Israeli leaders meet at the highest level.
Relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia have traditionally been difficult. Saudi Arabia is a supporter of the Palestinians and has always said that Israel should not be recognised until it gives up the occupied territories.
According to sources, Netanyahu also spoke to the US Secretary of State Pompeo yesterday in Saudi Arabia.
Israel and Saudi Arabia do not have a formal diplomatic relationship, although more and more countries in the region are entering into relations with Israel, particularly because of the tensions surrounding Iran.
“ We don‘t know what has been discussed, but chances are that it has also been about Iran,” says correspondent Ties Brock about the possible meeting between Netanyahu and Bin Salman. “Both Israel and Saudi Arabia see Iran’s greatest enemy in the Middle East. The countries were pleased with Trump‘s policy of confronting Iran, and fear that Joe Biden will take a different course.”
Saudi Arabia seems to have recently taken a less hostile attitude towards Israel. For several months now, the country has allowed Israeli flights over its airspace.
Since the beginning of this year, Israeli citizens have also been allowed to visit Saudi Arabia for religious reasons and business purposes. Until then, that could only be done with special permission. The announcement in January was seen as a sign that the relationship between Israel and Saudi Arabia is improving.
In September, Israel signed the so-called Abraham Agreements with two other Arab countries, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, led by US President Trump. With this, the three countries normalized their relations.
“ If Israel is able to establish official relations with Saudi Arabia, it would be the jackpot from an Israeli perspective,” says Correspondent Brock. “The country is economically and politically a major player in the region.”
The Ministry of Prime Minister Netanyahu has not yet released anything about the Prime Minister’s visit to Saudi Arabia. That country is regularly in contradiction because of human rights violations.