Ex-Saudi general who visited Israel rejects normalization of ties

Possibly under duress, the Saudi ex-general is distancing himself from any notion of a possible warming of relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia.  

The retired Saudi general who visited Jerusalem two weeks ago and met with senior Israeli officials and Members of Knesset has rejected any attempt to link his visit to a normalizing of relations between Riyadh and Jerusalem.

In a Tuesday interview with Al-Shams Radio, which broadcasts from Israel, Anwar Eshki said he was on a visit to Israel together with other researchers – members of the Middle East institute, a think tank that he heads. He said he was in the country on the invitation of the Palestinian Authority (PA) and senior Palestinian Fatah official Jibril Rajoub.

The meetings with the Israeli officials did not take place in a government office, but rather at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, Eshki stressed.

“My visit was not coordinated with the Saudi royal house and I did not receive a green light from Saudi Arabia,” he said in the interview. “I came on my own behalf and that of the research institute. However, there were those who tried to exploit the visit and its timing in order to attack Saudi Arabia. In Israel, too, they exploited the visit to report on closer [relations] and normalization,” he added.

The Saudis also distanced themselves from the event. A Saudi Foreign Ministry official said the visit “does not reflect the views of the Saudi government.”

However, over recent months there have been several reports of secret ties between Israel and several Sunni Muslim countries in the Gulf, and chiefly Saudi Arabia, which leads them.

Israel and the Gulf states share common interests and are both concerned about Iran’s regional belligerent policies and nuclear program as well as the advent of Islamic terrorism in the Middle East.

By: Aryeh Savir, World Israel News