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Israel’s Netanyahu hints at trip to Saudi Arabia in party meeting

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu leaves after a speech at the Knesset in Jerusalem al-Quds on December 22, 2020. (Photo by AFP)

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has implicitly mentioned that he recently visited Saudi Arabia, in what is his first known confirmation of a trip to several Arab countries in November last year.

Netanyahu made the comment in a closed-door meeting of his Likud party on Saturday night when he was asked about a possible deal between Tel Aviv and Iraqi Kurds.

"I recently visited other Arab states, and just like I couldn't tell about the Emirates, I cannot say now," he told officials from the ruling party, according to leaks from the meeting.

Netanyahu is reported to have met with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Red Sea city of Neom on November 22, along with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Israeli sources confirmed at the time the visit which lasted several hours, but no public statements have so far been made. Moreover, the Saudi Foreign Ministry denied reported details of the meeting, but not that Netanyahu and Salman had held a meeting.

Netanyahu’s comments came two weeks after he claimed that “many, many more countries” would be signing normalization agreements with Israel “a lot sooner than people expect.”

Since September, the Israeli regime has struck normalization agreements with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco, with US officials saying a deal with Saudi Arabia is “inevitable.”

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

Saudi officials have said Riyadh supports full normalization with Israel, but have shied away from announcing an abrupt deal similar to the UAE and Bahrain, stating that a permanent and complete peace agreement has to be reached first between Israelis and Palestinians.

The normalization deals between some Arab states and the Tel Aviv regime have already been condemned by all Palestinian factions as a treacherous "stab in the back" of their cause against the Israeli occupation.

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