Saudi Arabia ‘ignoring’ Israel as punishment for leaking secret Netanyahu-MbS meeting

Saudi Arabia ‘ignoring’ Israel as punishment for leaking secret Netanyahu-MbS meeting
Riyadh is still angry with Israel for leaking reports on a secret meeting between Benjamin Netanyahu and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Neom last year.
3 min read
16 January, 2021
Riyadh is angry with Israel for leaking the secret meeting [Getty]
Saudi Arabia has stopped responding to direct and indirect contact from Israel since Tel Aviv exposed a secret meeting between the two countries, sources said.

The Saudi kingdom has been “boycotting” the Israelis and refusing to respond to communication, even those attempted via the Americans, an Israeli source revealed to London-based news outlet Elaph.

The source, who refused to be named, said the situation between the two nations has been “different” since Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office leaked information on secret a meeting between the Israeli premier and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Neom.

Israel is rallying to make amends, the source added.

The remarks seem to solidify earlier reports that said Saudi Arabia cancelled a planned visit by a high-ranking Israeli official to Riyadh following the leak.

According to a report by Israeli newspaper Yediot Aharonot, Mossad hief Yossi Cohen was most likely the official due to visit the Saudi capital city.

Cohen is responsible for coordinating the secret relations between Israel and the Gulf Arab states prior to normalisation and had a hand in officiating relations between Bahrain and the UAE, along with organising Netanyahu’s visit to Oman in October 2018.

Netanyahu, along with Cohen, made a secret visit to Saudi Arabia on November 22, where he stayed in the city of Neom for about three hours. He participated in meetings with the US Secretary of State and the Saudi Crown Prince.

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman was left unaware of the secret meeting between his son and the Israeli officials, Saudi sources later said.

The meeting has been rejected and slammed as "rumours" by Riyadh, despite several Saudi and Israel sources confirming it had taken place.

Saudi Arabia is among a number of Arab states rumoured to have been mulling an agreement with Israel in recent years, but the crown prince and de-facto ruler appears to have been hesitant to follow suit with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco later last year.

Crown Prince Mohammed, widely known as MbS, nixed plans to normalise ties with Israel after Biden was declared the winner of the November 3 US election, the Wall Street Journal reported.

A historic US ally, Riyadh has suffered a damaged reputation in Washington since the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018.

Although President Donald Trump stood by MbS, both Republicans and Democrats joined popular calls for sanctions and a halt to arms exports over the Khashoggi killing and the leading Saudi role in the brutal war in Yemen.

The incoming Biden-Harris administration is expected to take Riyadh's human rights violations more seriously and pursue greater accountability on issues such as the detention of rights activists.

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