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Netanyahu secretly visits Saudi Arabia, meets bin Salman: Report

Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan and US Ambassador to Saudi Arabia John Abizaid greet Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and his wife Susan as they arrive at Neom Bay Airport in Saudi Arabia. (Photo by AP)

Israeli media are reporting that prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu met Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during a secret visit to Saudi Arabia Sunday.

Israel’s Kan public radio and Army Radio said on Monday that Netanyahu made the clandestine visit to the Saudi Arabian city of Neom, where bin Salman and Pompeo had a scheduled meeting.

Netanyahu was reportedly accompanied by director of the Israeli spy agency Mossad Yossi Cohen during the visit. 

Avi Scharf of Israel’s Haaretz newspaper published aviation tracking data showing that a business jet had made a brief trip from Tel Aviv to Neom.

Israeli education minister Yoav Gallant confirmed the media reports on Monday, saying, “The very fact the meeting happened, and was outed publicly, even if half-officially right now, is a matter of great importance.” 

Pompeo has tried to coax Riyadh into following the lead of other Arab countries of the Persian Gulf to normalize relations with Israel.

The United Arab Emirates and Bahrain signed the controversial agreements to normalize ties with Israel at the White House on September 15. The normalization deals were condemned by all Palestinian factions as betrayals of their cause.

Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud, the Saudi minister of foreign affairs, announced on Saturday that Riyadh supports full normalization with Israel, but first, a permanent and complete peace agreement should be approved to guarantee the Palestinians their state with dignity.

Mossad's chief said last month he believed that Saudi Arabia would normalize relations with Israel, but would do so after the US election, to capitalize fully on such a move with the next president.

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