Saudi and Israeli officials met in Egypt to discuss normalizing ties, according to a report in the Arab media.
By: Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News
In his first public trip abroad since becoming Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed Bin Salman, flew to Cairo on Sunday to sign multi-billion dollar agreements with the Egyptian president. According to a Wednesday report in the London-based Arab newspaper Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, he also met there with senior Israeli officials.
The broad theme of the meeting was the normalization of ties between the two countries, said the paper, which have yet to recognize each other or have open diplomatic relations. Saudi Arabia’s support for the peace plan that U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration is putting together was also discussed, notwithstanding the fact that the plan’s details have not officially been revealed.
The impetus for the meeting, according to the Arab paper’s source, is an immense, $500 billion Saudi mega-city called Neom, to be built on Saudi territory on the eastern shore of the Red Sea near Jordan. The plan is for the 10,000 square mile area to become a transnational biotech and digital hub. It would connect to Egypt via a bridge running through the island of Tiran, which is one of the two Red Sea islands Egypt recently transferred to the Saudis, with Israel’s quiet agreement.
The source noted that due to the shared Red Sea border between all the countries, it is necessary to establish an international framework to include Israel in the Saudi project.
This would not be the first time that the crown prince met with Israelis. An anonymous Israeli official reportedly confirmed in October that the prince had secretly visited Tel Aviv the previous month to discuss regional peace ideas with Israeli officials.
Prime Minister Netanyahu as well as other government representatives, have openly talked of the quiet Israeli-Saudi relationship and security coordination that has developed over recent years with various Sunni Muslim states. Even though none of these nations have diplomatic relations with the Jewish state, the common bond between them is their desire to stop Iran’s hegemonic ambitions, which threaten all states in the region.