Saudi Arabia denies 'secret' diplomatic visit to Israel

Saudi Arabia denies 'secret' diplomatic visit to Israel
Saudi Arabia's foreign ministry has denied any of its officials visited Israel, after Israeli media reported Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman had made a secret trip there.
2 min read
23 October, 2017
Israeli radio reported last month that Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman visited Israel [Getty]
Saudi Arabia on Sunday denied that any of its officials had visited Israel, after Israeli media reported that a senior prince had made a secret diplomatic trip there.

"Reports of a secret visit to Israel by a Saudi official which have appeared on some media are unfounded," a spokesman for the Saudi foreign ministry said. 

"Saudi Arabia has always been transparent as regards contacts and visits" to foreign countries, the spokesman said in a statement carried by the official SPA news agency. 

Israeli radio last month reported that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had secretly met officials in Israel. 

Israeli officials never confirmed the reports. 

In 2002, Saudi Arabia proposed a peace initiative offering Arab countries' recognition of Israel in return for Israel's withdrawal from territories occupied in 1967 and the creation of a Palestinian state. 

The plan was never put into action. 

Reports of Gulf Arab states normalising relations with Israel had become prevalent over the past weeks. Last month, a rumour emergeed that the Bahraini king had "grown tired" of the Arab boycott of Israel.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu also confirmed that Israel was enjoying the "greatest relations ever" with the Arab world, even without a peace accord with Palestinians.

In June, leaked emails of the UAE's ambassador to the US Yousef al-Otaiba's revealed that Abu Dhabi had established secret links with Israel.

The emails showed a "growing link" between the UAE and pro-Israel think-tank, Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD).

Like Israel, most Gulf states including Saudi Arabia prioritise curbing Iran's regional influence.

Agencies contributed to this report.