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HomeWorldIsrael PM Netanyahu secretly flew to Saudi Arabia to meet Crown Prince,...

Israel PM Netanyahu secretly flew to Saudi Arabia to meet Crown Prince, Pompeo, says report

Report in Axios said Netanyahu's travel was confirmed via online flight radar sites that showed a private jet departing from Tel Aviv Sunday evening & flying directly to Neom.

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New Delhi: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is reported to have secretly flown to Saudi Arabia Sunday for a meeting with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman.

Netanyahu’s travel to the Red Sea coast was confirmed based on data from online flight radar sites that showed “a private jet departing from Tel Aviv Sunday evening and flying directly to Neom. The jet returned to Israel after five hours on the ground”, said a report in Axios.

The report also noted that the private jet’s journey coincided with a planned meeting between Pompeo and the Saudi crown prince, which was published on the US Secretary of State’s schedule.

Neither Israel nor Saudi Arabia have officially confirmed this event. The report, however, said this is the first time that such a high level meeting was convened between the two countries that have had a ‘secret relationship’ for many years.

Israel and the UAE had also signed a peace deal in August 2020, mediated by US President Donald Trump, which is “likely to embolden Netanyahu’s coalition, deepen Israel’s occupation and strengthen Israel’s alliance with Arab autocrats”.

Also read: How Biden should deal with Iran

Netanyahu accompanied by Mossad head

Netanyahu, according to the report, was accompanied by the Director of Mossad, Yossi Cohen. It also notes that all three parties — Israel, Saudi Arabia and the US — were aware that news of this meeting will see the light of day.

“According to Israeli sources, Netanyahu didn’t update in advance his coalition partners, Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi, about the trip. Both Gantz and Ashkenazi are Netanyahu’s political rivals.”

This meeting also took place on a day when the Israeli coronavirus cabinet was scheduled to meet but was cancelled.

The ‘secret’ meeting also gains significance after the victory of Democratic candidate Joe Biden in the 2020 US elections. The Biden administration aims to rejoin the 2015 Iran nuclear deal which, many experts from Israel’s Institute for National Security Studies believe, could widen the existing disputes between the Israeli government and the US administration.

The deal came after years of tension over Iran allegedly building a nuclear weapon. “Under the accord, Iran agreed to limit its sensitive nuclear activities and allow international inspectors in return for the lifting of crippling economic sanctions.”

Also read: Why Biden’s path back to the Iran nuclear deal won’t be easy


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