Mossad chief Yossi Levy reportedly accompanied Netanyahu for secret meeting with Saudi Crown Prince and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
By Paul Shindman, World Israel News
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Mossad chief Yossi Cohen flew secretly to Saudi Arabia on the weekend to meet with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Hebrew media reports said Monday.
Several social media accounts follow air traffic around the region. An Israeli business jet was tracked after it took off just before 8 p.m. Sunday evening from Ben Gurion Airport, flew south over Israeli airspace and then over the Gulf of Eilat in between Egypt and Saudi Arabia, where it turned into Saudi airspace and landed at the town of Neom, some 50 kilometers (30 miles) south of Eilat.
According to the reports, after some three and a half hours on the ground, the plane took off from Neom at 23:50 and flew back to Israel, landing at Ben Gurion Airport at 00:50, meaning that Netanyahu would have been on Saudi soil for about four hours.
The mysterious flight took place with several burning issues in the Middle East in the background: on the one hand, the normalization agreements between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan, and on the other, reports that U.S. President Donald Trump considered attacking Iran before the end of his term.
The alleged unprecedented trilateral meeting got some confirmation when a source close to Netanyahu tweeted a comment about Defense Minister Benny Gantz’s attempt Sunday to convene an inquiry into the corruption scandal surrounding Israel’s purchase of German submarines, in which Netanyahu associates are suspected of taking bribes and peddling influence.
The prime minister’s office did not deny the meeting in Saudi Arabia took place , but Netanyahu’s social media adviser Topaz Luk tweeted: “Gantz is doing politics while the prime minister is making peace,” hinting that the meeting did indeed occur.
While President Trump hinted that Saudi Arabia might join the American-brokered Abraham Accords in which Israel established peaceful relations with the UAE, Bahrain and Sudan, the subject of Iran and President-elect Joe Biden may have been on the agenda of the meeting.
Biden has spoken out in favor of a return to a nuclear deal with Iran, a move staunchly opposed by Israel, Saudi Arabia and other countries in the Gulf that are repeatedly threatened by the regime in Tehran.
The Saudi heir reportedly supports the establishment of relations with Israel, but his father, King Salman bin Abdulaziz, opposes it. The Wall Street Journal previously reported that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman even knew about the agreement between Israel and the Emirates before it went into effect but did not tell his father for fear he would try to thwart the move.
In recent weeks, Saudi Arabia has allowed a precedent-setting move for Israeli planes to use its airspace on their way to the UAE and Bahrain, and in recent months there has also been harsh criticism of the Palestinians by senior Saudi officials.
A senior Israeli security official said last month, following the peace agreements, that he “believes that Saudi Arabia will also come out of the closet at the end.”
Pompeo is wrapping up a whirlwind foreign tour that took him to Europe and the Middle East before he leaves office and is replaced when Biden takes office in January. Last week, Pompeo spent several days in Israel, meeting Israeli leaders and making the first ever official visit by an American secretary of state to a Jewish community in Judea and Samaria. He also visited the Golan Heights.