Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman chairs final session of the 15th annual G20 Leaders’ Summit in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, November 22, 2020. Bandar Algaloud/Courtesy of Saudi Royal Court/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS – THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY

THE NEUTRAL ZONE

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly met with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on a visit that would mark the first reported meeting between leaders of the two foes, according to an unnamed Israeli official. 

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also attended Sunday night’s unannounced trip to Saudi Arabia,  according to the report. Netanyahu cabinet member Yoav Gallant confirmed the meeting. “The very fact the meeting happened, and was outed publicly, even if half-officially right now, is a matter of great importance,” he said. Faisal bin Farhan, Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister, denied that the meeting took place. “No such meeting occurred,” he tweeted. “The only officials present were American and Saudi.” 

 The clandestine meeting took place in the Saudi city of Noem according to Israeli sources, and Mossad chief Yossi Cohen was present. Pompeo also met with bin Salman over the weekend in a meeting Pompeo described as “constructive.” “The United States and Saudi Arabia have come a long way since President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and King Abdul Aziz Al Saud first laid the foundation for our ties 75 years ago,” Pompeo tweeted.

The secrecy and conflicting messages about the validity of the meeting are consistent with the complex politics in the middle east, and the implications of the Saudi government working with Israel before Palestine receives statehood would likely make enemies of Turkey and Iran and heighten tensions in the Saudi Kingdom as well.

MEDIA PERSPECTIVE

Israel PM Netanyahu secretly met with Saudi crown prince: reports – Fox News – 11/23/2020
Israeli press reported that Netanyahu did not reveal his trip to Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz or the foreign minister, Gaby Ashkenazi. This is not the first time the two officials learned of meetings from the media – the last time was the announcement of the Normalization of diplomatic ties with the United Arab Emirates.

HISTORIC: Netanyahu Meets Saudi Prince in Saudi Arabia, Reports Say – The Daily Wire – 11/23/2020
It’s not surprising that Israel and Saudi Arabia would go public with the meeting between Netanyahu and the Saudi prince; they must be worried that a prospective Biden administration would coddle the despotic Iranian regime as the Obama administration did.

Saudi Arabia denies crown prince held ‘secret meeting’ with Israeli PM – BBC News – 11/23/2020
Citing unnamed Israeli sources, Israeli public broadcaster Kan and other media earlier reported that Mr Netanyahu and the head of the Mossad intelligence service, Yossi Cohen, attended talks in Saudi Arabia on Sunday evening with Crown Prince Mohammed and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Israeli Reports Say Netanyahu Met Saudi Crown Prince, but Saudis Deny It – New York Times – 11/23/2020
Hours after those reports, attributed to an unidentified Israeli official, the Saudi foreign minister flatly and publicly denied that such a meeting had taken place. The confusing turn of events came as Israel and the Trump administration have promoted the idea that a diplomatic opening between Saudi Arabia and Israel is only a matter of time, while the Saudis have continued to insist that an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal must come first.

INFLUENCER PERSPECTIVE

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