Retired Saudi general met Israeli politicians and ministers in Jerusalem
A retired Saudi general visited Israel and met with senior government officials and parliamentarians last week, despite there being no official diplomatic relations between the two countries.
Retired General Anwar Eshki, who travelled to Israel with a delegation of academics and business people, met Foreign Ministry Director-General Dore Gold and Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories Major-General Yoav Mordechai, according to Haaretz.
Gold had previously written a highly critical book of Saudi Arabia called Hatred’s Kingdom. Eshki asserted that, during their meeting, Gold had apologised for some of the book's content and announced he was committed to strengthening ties between the two countries.
Eshki’s meeting with Gold and Mordechai took place at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, rather than at a government office.
He also met with members of the Knesset to discuss the Arab Peace Initiative, a proposal for ending the Israel-Palestine conflict, and Zionist Union legislators Ksenia Svetlova and Omer Bar-Lev as well as Yair Lapid, chairman of the Yesh Atid, on Tuesday. The party largely represents Israel's secular middle-class.
MK Esawi Freige, from the left-wing Meretz party, met with Eshki on Friday and said that the latter had proposed a trip by members of the Knesset to Saudi Arabia.
"The Saudis want to open up to Israel," Freige said.
"This is a strategic step for them. They said they want to continue what former Egyptian president Anwar Sadat started. They want to get closer to Israel. This is clearly evident."
Israelis are currently not permitted to be issued with travel visas for Saudi Arabia, but behind-the-scenes diplomatic relations between the two countries (who are both staunch regional allies of the US) have been well documented for years.
Reports from a Saudi insider in March suggested that the kingdom had purchased drones from Israel via South Africa.
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