Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan denied reports of a secret meeting between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Axios reported Monday.
Netanyahu reportedly arrived in Neom, Saudi Arabia, to join a meeting between bin Salman and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo Sunday, according to Reuters. Walla, an Israeli news company, cited an anonymous Israeli official who said Yossi Cohen, director of Mossad, accompanied Netanyahu, according to the Associated Press.
If confirmed, such an event would be the first official meeting between high-ranking Israeli and Saudi officials, Axios reported.
The leaders reportedly discussed the Biden administration and Iran, but failed to reach a substantial agreement, the Wall Street Journal reported. (RELATED: Pompeo Becomes First Secretary Of State To Make An Official Visit To Israeli Settlements)
Bin Farhan denied the reports in a tweet Monday. “No such meeting occurred. The only officials present were American and Saudi,” bin Farhan said.
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
When asked about the meeting, Netanyahu refused to comment.
“I never commented on those issues and I will not start now. I can just say that I am working on broadening the circle of peace and I hope it will grow,” Netanyahu said, according to Axios.
Israeli Education Minister Yoav Gallant confirmed the meeting on an Israeli radio show 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,” The Times of Israel reported.
An executive plane was tracked going from Tel Aviv directly to Neom Sunday, according to Axios. That same evening, Netanyahu postponed a coronavirus cabinet meeting with little explanation, claiming preparations were incomplete, The Times of Israel reported.
ABSOLUTELY rare Israeli flight direct to new Saudi mega-city Neom on Red Sea shore
It was Bibi’s ex-fav bizjet t7-cpx. Back to Tel Aviv after 5 hours on ground pic.twitter.com/Ty9aedYbsK
— avi scharf (@avischarf) November 23, 2020
Senior Hamas official Abu Zuhri said that, if confirmed, the Saudi crown prince meeting with Netanyahu would be “an insult to the nation and an invitation to attack Palestinian rights,” according to The Times of Israel.
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