Saudi crown prince Bin Salman has made several trips to Israel: Report
The Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, has paid several visits to Israel, a former Israeli security official says.
"Foreign reports indicate that Mohammed bin Salman has enjoyed the Tel Aviv sunshine several times," said the former Shin Bet official, who spoke to Lebanon's Al Mayadeen TV on condition of anonymity.
This is not the first time that Bin Salman's trips to Israel are being disclosed. In October 2017, an Israeli official confirmed that Bin Salman had traveled to Israel and held consultations with senior officials there.
The visits come as Saudi Arabia and Israel do not have formal diplomatic relations. And while there had already been reports that the Israeli and Saudi regimes have been tilting toward one another in recent years, a confirmed visit by an official as high-ranking as bin Salman takes the matter to a completely new and potentially explosive level as anti-Israeli sentiments continue to be high on the Arab street.
While Israel and Riyadh may be fine with cozying up to one another, many Arab citizens in the region are firmly opposed to the establishment of ties with the regime because of its occupation of Palestinian lands and atrocities against the Palestinian population.
In his Monday comments, the former Israeli security official claimed that Arab countries believe normalization of their relations with Israel is more important than the Palestinian people's cause.
Last month, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates reached a US-brokered deal with Israel to normalize relations, amid speculation other Persian Gulf Arab states, including Saudi Arabia, would follow suit.
The head of Israel’s Mossad spy agency indicated in a September interview that Saudi Arabia could be in line to normalize ties with Israel following the peace agreements with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.
Yossi Cohen has been cited as a key figure in the US-sponsored “Abraham Accords” with Abu Dhabi and Manama. Cohen reportedly shuttled to Persian Gulf states on numerous secretive journeys in recent years to build closer clandestine ties with Arab nations.
He said the move to formalize ties was achieved through long years of “contacts managed very very delicately.”
On Friday, the Israeli newspaper Maariv revealed that Saudi Arabia has played in a key role in convincing Bahrain and the UAE to normalize their ties with Tel Aviv.
The report said the normalization deals were not possible without Riyadh's "consent" and "close consultations".