Building upon the success of the Abraham Accords that have normalized relations between Israel and three Middle East nations, the Trump administration is now part of efforts to develop an agreement between Israel and Saudi Arabia, according to new reports.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who has been in the Middle East these past few days, reportedly was part of a clandestine meeting Sunday in Saudi Arabia that brought high-level Israeli and Saudi officials together in a precedent-shattering session.
MBS and Pompeo were at NEOM at the time. https://t.co/bc2H4hETk8
— avi scharf (@avischarf) November 23, 2020
One Saudi official denied the meeting had taken place, and the Israeli government did not issue any official confirmation.
However, Israeli Education Minister Yoav Gallant spoke about the meeting on Israeli radio on Monday.
“The fact that the meeting took place and was made public — even if it was in only a semiofficial way — is something of great importance,” he said, according to The New York Times.
“This is something our ancestors dreamed of,” Gallant said, according to The Washington Post. “The main thing is the warm acceptance of Israel by the Sunni world, the lowering of the whole hostile process.”
In its reporting, The Post said Netanyahu traveled with Yossi Cohen, the head of Mossad.
Prince Faisal bin Farhan, the Saudi foreign minister, tweeted a contradiction.
“I have seen press reports about a purported meeting between HRH the Crown Prince and Israeli officials during the recent visit by @SecPompeo. No such meeting occurred. The only officials present were American and Saudi,” he tweeted.
I have seen press reports about a purported meeting between HRH the Crown Prince and Israeli officials during the recent visit by @SecPompeo. No such meeting occurred. The only officials present were American and Saudi.
— فيصل بن فرحان (@FaisalbinFarhan) November 23, 2020
In August, in the first step of what Trump dubbed the Abraham Accords, Israel and the United Arab Emirates agreed to establish formal diplomatic relations. Bahrain and Sudan also did so.
Faisal said Saturday the kingdom might normalize relations with Israel, but not right away.
Saudi Arabia has “supported normalization with Israel for a long time, but one very important thing must happen first: a permanent and full peace deal between Israelis and Palestinians,” he said.
“We have at least five that want to come in,” Trump said then. “We expect Saudi Arabia will be one of those countries.”
“We will be signing many nations over the next coming weeks and months, including some very big ones. It’s very exciting, actually. It’s peace in the Middle East without bloodshed,” the president said.
“And the Palestinians, by the way, if you ask about the Palestinians, they’re wanting to do something,” he said. “They have never seen anything like this. They’re wanting to do something. I’m sure that will get done too.”
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