Re­port: PM work­ing to nor­mal­ize ties with Saudis be­fore elec­tions

The Jerusalem Post - - NEWS - • By GIL HOFF­MAN

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.

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