Saudi Prince’s “Secret” Meeting With Israeli Officials Sparks Controversy

According to the Voice of Israel radio, an emir of the Saudi royal court traveled to Tel Aviv for a secret meeting with Israeli officials.

The Prime Minister’s Office and the Foreign Ministry both refused to comment, but according to Albawaba News, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the extent of relations with Saudi Arabia “has yet to fully be made public,” and the scope of Israeli relations with the Arab world is currently greater than “any other period in Israeli history.”

Benjamin Netanyahu addressed Foreign Ministry personnel ahead of the Jewish new year, saying the extent of relations has yet to fully be made public.

Saudi Arabia does not recognize the sovereignty of Israel, and the two nations have no diplomatic relations, but the push against Assad for a regime change in Syria has created a common goal for Israel and neighboring countries.

Israel and Saudi Arabia have also shared a common concern for Iran’s growth of regional power in recent years.

Israel National News reports:

On Sunday, the IUVM Online Arabic news outlet identified the Saudi official who reportedly visited Israel as Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, the Defense Minister of Saudi Arabia and heir apparent to the throne.

The IUVM Online report cited a United Arab Emirates intelligence officer, who claimed that bin Salman was the member of the Saudi royal family who met with Israeli officials in last week’s secret meeting.

The Emirati official claimed that the visit, which focused on plans to reboot the moribund negotiating process between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, was a result of growing pressure on the Saudi government to recognized Israel.

Reports of the secret meeting, particularly that it concerned the “negotiating process between Israel and the Palestinian Authority” soon went viral.

Several Israeli news sources also claimed Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was the royal who met with officials in Tel Aviv.

As reports on the meeting continued to circulate, a senior Saudi diplomatic official at Washington D.C,’s Saudi embassy quickly responded.  His single-word response is an apparent denial of recent news.

Although nobody knows for sure what happened at this “secret meeting,” speculation that the two countries are working out a plan to keep Iran’s influence out of Syria after international, cooperative efforts for a regime change in Syria are made.

Zero Hedge reports:

Though initial reports in Israeli media speculated that it could mean positive momentum on the Palestinian issue, it is unlikely that the future king of Saudi Arabia himself would suddenly pay a personal visit to Israel over an issue which has stalemated regional diplomacy for decades. It also doesn’t appear that Israeli policy on settlements has undergone any significant on the ground change. If true, public knowledge of the visit will certainly result in embarrassment for both countries, especially on the Saudi domestic front.

The initial Israeli public radio report referenced the visit of “an emir of the Saudi royal court” on Wednesday while saying the trip took place “in recent days”. As both Israel and Saudi Arabia have been so heavily invested in pursuing regime change in Syria, and at a time when other world powers seem to be backing off, it is inconceivable that Syria wasn’t high on the agenda during the unprecedented visit.

The timing of the meeting also seems more than just coincidental in relation to last week’s Israeli airstrike on a Syrian military facility, which took place in the middle of the night Wednesday (or more precisely Thursday morning at 3:00 am). As we reported at the time, Israel’s brazen act of aggression was designed to provoke a response from Syria. As the Syrian government stands poised to be victorious in the more than 6-year long conflict while rapidly regaining more and more territory, Israel seems desperate to keep the war going and is still making last ditch efforts to draw external powers deeper into Syria, though framing its aggression as “humanitarian”.

Could the two powers have been engaged in face to face talks over renewed efforts at ramping up the stalled war for regime change in Syria? After all, Israel’s declarations of its willingness to do anything to prevent an enduring Iranian presence in Syria have reached a new erratic pitch of late.

Whether or not it was Prince Salman who attended the meeting, most news outlets agree that the meeting did take place, and Syria almost certainly came up. The question that we are all now wondering is what will the two nations do next?