Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reportedly attended a secret meeting between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman – the first known summit between the Middle East’s longstanding enemies.
The leaders discussed various topics during Sunday’s meeting, including normalizing relations and addressing Iran, a common enemy of the two nations, a senior Saudi official told the Wall Street Journal.
The first meeting of its kind, which lasted a few hours, took place under pressure from the Trump administration to normalize diplomatic relations between Arab nations and Israel.
Yossi Cohen, head of the Israeli espionage agency Mossad, was also present. He played a key role in negotiating diplomatic relations with the kingdom, according to the Washington Post.
Netanyahu flew on Sunday evening on a Gulfstream IV jet owned by Ehud “Udi” Angel, a prominent Israeli businessman whose jet had been used on previous diplomatic trips, from Tel Aviv to Neom, a city in the Tabuk province of Saudi Arabia, Jerusalem Post reported, citing Israeli officials.
Pompeo ends a tour of Europe and the Middle East with seven nations that included a visit to an Israeli settlement in the West Bank.
He tweeted pictures of his meeting with the Saudi crown prince, but did not offer any appreciation for MBS’s Israeli counterpart.
“I am delighted to meet the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Our security and economic partnership is strong, and we will continue to use it to fuel efforts to combat Iranian evil influence in the Gulf, the economic goals of the Vision 2030 plan and human rights reform, ”he wrote in a series of tweets on late Sunday evening.
The meeting itself was kept so secret that Netanyahu declined to inform Defense Secretary Benny Gantz or Foreign Secretary Gabi Ashkenazi about it before it took place.
Pompeo did not immediately respond to the Post’s request for comment on the reported meeting.
Representatives of the Israeli and Saudi authorities did not respond to media requests for comment.
In September the UAE, Bahrain and Israel signed the “Abraham Accords” to normalize relations between Israel and the two Arab nations.
By signing the agreement, they became the third and fourth Arab countries to establish diplomatic relations with Israel. The breakthrough also resulted in direct commercial flights between Israel and the UAE.
Initially, the Saudis spoke out against such agreements.
By October, Cohen had told his staff that the Saudis would be ready to come to the table once the US presidential election was decided and that they would both be better able to predict which foreign policy direction America would take, the Washington Post reported.
In an interview with Reuters over the weekend, Saudi Prince Faisal bin Farhan al-Saud, who serves as the country’s foreign minister, said that the kingdom “has long supported normalization with Israel, but one thing must be very important first: a lasting and comprehensive one Peace Agreement between Israelis and Palestinians. “
With postal wires