Israeli PM makes secret visit to Saudi, meets Crown Prince in presence of US State Secretary; causes sensation across globe

Jerusalem: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is on an undisclosed tour to Saudi Arabia and met Prince Mohammed bin Salman and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. After details of the visit surfaced, the news raked the Middle East along with the rest of the world. Yossi Cohen, chief of Israeli intelligence agency Mossad, was present during the meeting as well. At a time when the US administration is about to change, rising Iranian aggression is as much a matter of concern for Saudi Arabia as it is for Israel. Given the developments, the meeting between the Israeli Prime Minister and Saudi Crown Prince, in the presence of the US Secretary of State, is hinting at a significant upheaval.  

In an interview with Israeli military radio channel, Israeli Education Minister Yoav Gallant supported Prime Minister Netanyahu’s visit to Saudi. Gallant called the meeting between Israeli Prime Minister and Saudi Crown Prince a historical event but did not elaborate on the nature of talks carried out between the US, Israel and Saudi.   

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrein have decided to establish diplomatic relations with Israel. Although Saudi has not made such a decision, UAE and Bahrain are said to have made the move with support from Riyadh. By opening its airspace for air service between Israel and UAE, Saudi has indicated in that direction. Therefore, the recent events have sparked discussions over the group of Arab and Middle Eastern nations, under Saudi leadership, likely recognising Israel soon and establishing cooperation with it as well.  

Analysts say that even during the period when Saudi and its allies had not officially established relations with Israel, the countries would secretly conduct discussions among themselves. Moreover, the analysts argued that rising Iranian aggression had forced Saudi and its allies to build relations with Israel even though the Palestinian problem has not been resolved. Most importantly, Joe Biden has indicated renewing the nuclear treaty with Iran even before assuming the office. Israel, Saudi and other Middle Eastern states have thereby grown nervous, and by enhancing military ties, Saudi and Israel appear to be countering Iran’s threat.  

A few hours before the Israeli Prime Minister’s Saudi visit was uncovered, Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud had even stated that Saudi is prepared for normalisation of ties with Israel on specific terms. Faisal had said if Israel were to confer the status of an autonomous region to Palestine, Saudi would not object to establishing ties with Israel.   

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