Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu secretly flew to the Red Sea city of Niom on Sunday to meet with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Israeli sources said.
Why it matters: Israel and Saudi Arabia have had secret relations for years, but this is the first time such a high-level meeting has been reported – although neither side has officially confirmed it.
News driving: Data from online flight radar sites showed a private jet taking off from Tel Aviv on Sunday evening and flying directly to Niom. The jet returned to Israel on land for five hours.
- The extraordinary flight coincided with the planned meeting between Pompeo and the Saudi Crown Prince, which was published on the Secretary of State’s schedule.
pay attention: The Saudis, Israelis and Americans knew that the plane from Tel Aviv to Niom would be spotted by the spotters and that this would lead to the meeting being exposed.
- According to Israeli sources, Netanyahu and his allies, Defense Minister Benny Gants and Foreign Minister Gabby Ashkenazi, did not announce the trip in advance. Gants and Ashkenazi are Netanyahu’s political rivals.
What they say: Israeli sources told me that Mossad director Yoshi Cohen had joined Netanyahu on his way to Saudi Arabia.
- Netanyahu’s office did not comment on the story, but denied it.
- Netanyahu’s social media adviser after news of the visit broke in Israeli newspapers Topaz tweeted the look: “Prime Minister makes peace when Benny Gants deals with politics.”
In line: The Israeli corona virus ministry was scheduled to meet Sunday evening. Netanyahu’s office said Saturday night that the meeting had been postponed because more work needed to be done in advance.
- This was a cover story. The real reason for postponing the cabinet meeting was Netanyahu’s trip to Saudi Arabia, Israeli sources told me.
Large image: Israel and Saudi Arabia are very concerned about the statement of the incoming Biden government. Aim to return To the 2015 Iran deal.
- Hours before leaving for Saudi Arabia on Sunday, Netanyahu said in a speech: “Thanks to our firm stand against Iran’s nuclearisation and our opposition to the nuclear deal with Iran, many Arab countries have fundamentally changed their approach to Israel.