BEIRUT, Lebanon — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel flew to Saudi Arabia for a covert assembly with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia, Israeli information media reported on Monday.
The reported go to, Sunday evening, could be the primary identified assembly between high-level Israeli and Saudi leaders and will sign an acceleration of regularly warming relations between the 2 powers.
Mr. Netanyahu’s go to was reported by Army Radio and Kan public radio in Israel, which cited an unidentified official saying that the prime minister had flown with Yossi Cohen, the top of the Mossad spy company, to Neom, a futuristic metropolis Prince Mohammed is planning close to the Red Sea coast.
Saudi officers and Mr. Netanyahu’s workplace didn’t instantly reply to requests for remark.
On Monday, Topaz Luk, a media adviser to Mr. Netanyahu, posted an article on Twitter in regards to the newest strikes of Mr. Netanyahu’s protection minister and rival, Benny Gantz, with a remark that learn: “Gantz plays politics while the prime minister makes peace,” maybe hinting at a affirmation of the assembly.
Israel and Saudi Arabia haven’t any formal diplomatic relations, however hypothesis has been mounting that the dominion may finally observe the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, its neighbors, in normalizing relations with Israel, which the 2 smaller states did this 12 months. They have been the third and fourth Arab states to take action.
Saudi officers have stated that normalizing relations with Israel may come solely within the context of a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians, however the kingdom’s tone when talking about Israel has shifted lately.
Prince Mohammed, 35, a son of the Saudi monarch and the dominion’s de facto ruler, has stated that each Israelis and Palestinians have the appropriate to their land and that Israel has overlapping financial and safety pursuits with Arab states, particularly over their shared animosity towards Iran.
A key query for the Saudis is how pushing forward with normalization within the waning days of the Trump administration would have an effect on their standing in Washington and relationship with the incoming Biden administration.
President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. is more likely to welcome additional Saudi-Israeli rapprochement, though it stays unclear whether or not his administration will push for it in the identical approach President Trump has, or search to make use of the chance as leverage in efforts to restart Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.
Opening diplomatic ties with Israel may additionally assist Prince Mohammed rehabilitate his fame in Washington, dampening criticisms of the Saudi struggle in Yemen, crackdowns on activists and the killing of the dissident Saudi author Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi brokers in Istanbul in 2018.
Mr. Netanyahu’s go to would have adopted the top of the digital Group of 20 summit assembly hosted by Saudi Arabia over the weekend and coincided with a go to by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who met with Prince Mohammed on Sunday evening. Mr. Pompeo’s airplane landed in Neom at 8:30 p.m. and departed three hours later.
The web site Flightradar24, which gives dwell flight monitoring, confirmed a flight leaving Tel Aviv on Monday round 7:30 p.m. which then dropped off the radar close to Neom about an hour later. The similar airplane reappeared and flew again to Tel Aviv after midnight.
Avi Scharf, the editor of the English language version of the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, posted a map of the primary flight on Twitter on Monday.
“ABSOLUTELY rare Israeli flight direct to new Saudi megacity Neom on Red Sea shore,” Mr. Scharf wrote, noting that the jet used was one which Mr. Netanyahu had used earlier than.
Isabel Kershner and David M. Halbfinger contributed reporting from Jerusalem.