image A non-denial denial. A meeting without the matchmaker Photo: Reuters, Flash90

Netanyahu reportedly meets Saudi Crown Prince

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has reportedly travelled to Saudi Arabia for a covert trilateral meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman and visiting U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Relevant authorities in Jerusalem, Riyadh and Washington have respectively refused to comment on the meeting, and senior intelligence officials were reluctant to leak any specifics to the media. Neither Netanyahu’s office, the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem or Saudi state media have released any official comment on the reports.

If confirmed, it would be the first publicly acknowledged trip by an Israeli leader to ultra-conservative Kingdom, which is a Gulf powerhouse and the birthplace of Islam.

The talks are believed to have been held in the Saudi Red Sea city of Neom, where the U.S. Secretary of State had already been slated to visit with the Crown Prince. It is also thought that Netanyahu was accompanied by the Director of the Mossad intelligence agency Yossi Cohen, who has been spearheading discreet diplomatic outreach to Gulf Arab states.

Riyadh has until recently traditionally championed the Palestinian cause and shunned all official contacts with the Jewish State. The administration of U.S. President Donald Trump has called on the Saudis to follow their neighbors, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, in establishing formal relations with Israel. The Washington-brokered Abraham Accords are largely centered on a united regional front against  shared enemy Iran.

Since August, Saudi leaders have allowed Israeli airliners to overfly their territory en route to newly available Gulf destinations and Asia.