Yesterday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu flew secretly to the Saudi Arabian city of Neom on the Red Sea for a tripartite meeting with the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman, and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Netanyahu was accompanied by Mossad chief Yossi Cohen. The prime minister's bureau did not deny that the meeting took place, but refused to give any details.
According to Israeli sources, the main subject of the meeting was Iran and the possibility that the administration of incoming US president Joe Biden will try to renew negotiations with Iran and even rejoin the nuclear agreement.
Netanyahu traveled to Neom on the private plane of businessman Ehud Angel, which the Prime Minister's Office hires for special trips. The plane took off from Israel at 5 pm yesterday, at about the time that Minister of Defense Benny Gantz announced the government committee of inquiry into the procurement of submarines for the Israel Navy. Netanyahu flew directly to Neom, and took off on the return journey to Israel after five hours.
Like Israel, Saudi Arabia is very perturbed at the prospect of a change in US policy with the advent of a new administration, particularly on Iran. The Trump administration recently reinforced the sanctions against senior figures in the Iranian regime, and the fear is that Biden will lift the sanctions and adopt a conciliatory posture towards Iran.
Alternate Prime Minister and Minister of Defense Benny Gantz did not know about the prime minister's trip to Saudi Arabia, "Globes" learned this morning. The trip, which was first reported in the Israeli media this morning, was kept secret even from senior members of the government, including Gantz and Minister of Foreign Affairs Gabi Ashkenazi, who were informed of the secret meeting only today.
Yesterday evening, Gantz complained about Netanyahu's decision without warning not to attend a meeting of the coronavirus cabinet that was scheduled to be held then, unaware that Netanyahu was on his way overseas at that very time. Gantz's spokesperson declined to comment on the report, but confirmed the details.
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on November 23, 2020
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