The visit only remained secret for a few hours. Monday, November 23, the Israeli news site Walla News, quoting an anonymous government source, revealed that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu had made a five-hour jump to Saudi Arabia the night before, the time to meet the crown prince of the kingdom, Mohammed Ben Salman, says “MBS “. The talk took place in Neom, the ultramodern megalopolis under construction in the northwest corner of Arabia, in the presence of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who was completing his farewell tour of the Middle East, and by Mossad leader Yossi Cohen.
This is not the first time that Israeli media have reported a tête-à-tête between King Salman’s son and the Israeli prime minister. But this is the first time that such an announcement could be corroborated. A real-time flight path monitoring site showed that a private jet previously used by Mr. Netanyahu made a round trip Tel Aviv-Neom on Sunday at the end of the day.
On Monday, in a meeting with his party, Likud, the Israeli head of government declined to comment: “I haven’t tackled this kind of subject for years and I’m not going to get down to it now”, he said laconically. But his education minister, Yoav Galant, hailed on Israeli radio “An incredible accomplishment”.
For Mr. Netanyahu, the event is timely. On Sunday, his bulky coalition partner, Benny Gantz, who should succeed him in a year under the government agreement signed last May, announced the creation of a commission of inquiry around suspicions of corruption during the purchase. of submarines to Germany. The case, which touches on national security issues, worries the Prime Minister’s entourage, already on trial for corruption and severely criticized for his management of the coronavirus crisis.
Possibility of a diplomatic turn
In the early afternoon, five hours after the scoop of Walla News, Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal Ben Farhan caused confusion by denying any Israeli presence in Neom. “I saw the press talking about an alleged meeting between His Royal Highness the Crown Prince and Israeli leaders during the visit of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, tweeted the Saudi diplomat. This meeting did not take place. The only officials present were Americans and Saudi Arabians. “
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