Saudi Arabia distances itself from visit by ex-general to Israel

Saudi Arabia is distancing itself from a recent visit by former Saudi general Anwar Eshki, who visited Jerusalem last week and met with Israeli officials, including Foreign Ministry Director General Dore Gold.

A Saudi Foreign Ministry official said the visit “does not reflect the views of the Saudi government,” this according to a report in the Saudi-owned al-Hayat newspaper on Wednesday.

Although Israel and Saudi Arabia have no official diplomatic ties, they have reportedly unofficially grown closer in recent years over their shared concerns regarding Iran’s nuclear program, its growing influence in the Middle East and the advent of Islamic terror.

The kingdom officially prohibits its citizens from traveling to Israel and does not grant entry to Israelis, but Saudi government permission was likely necessary for Eshki and the delegation of Saudi academics and businessmen to make the visit.

Eshki also met with Members of Knesset from several political parties in Jerusalem last Friday.

He currently heads a Saudi think tank in Jeddah and is believed to have close ties with the kingdom’s rulers. He has met with Israelis in the past and has given interviews to the Israeli media.

Over the past 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.

By: AP and World Israel News Staff