Report: PM working to normalize ties with Saudis before elections
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is working behind the scenes to normalize relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia, Channel 2 diplomatic correspondent Dana Weiss reported on Saturday night.
The report said Netanyahu’s goal was to bring about a breakthrough and make the relations between the two countries official before the 2019 Israeli election. Mossad head Yossi Cohen, who was responsible for facilitating Netanyahu’s October 26 visit to Oman, is Netanyahu’s point man on building relations with the Saudis.
Netanyahu stood behind Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman when he faced international criticism for his alleged role in the murder of Saudi-American journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on October 2.
The report quoted a senior diplomatic source saying Israel has been in contact with multiple Arab states to figure out interests vis-à-vis Iran, apparently including Saudi Arabia.
Netanyahu announced following the Oman trip that “there will be other” such visits to Muslim countries with whom Israel does not currently have diplomatic relations.
Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Khalid Al Khalifa raised speculation that his country would be Netanyahu’s next host when he praised him on Twitter the same day Netanyahu was in Oman.
“Despite controversy, Mr. Benjamin Netanyahu has a clear position on the importance of establishing stability in the region and Saudi Arabia’s role in achieving this stability,” Al Khalifa said.
But the Bahraini foreign minister told the London-based Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper over the weekend that there had been no plans made for such a visit.