Saudi Arabian officials have reportedly cancelled a planned visit by the head of Israel’s Mossad spy agency, Yossi Cohen, after details of Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s secret trip to the kingdom were leaked.
Alex Fishman, a military analyst for the Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth, wrote on Friday that Riyadh had cancelled the visit because Netanyahu had disclosed his meeting with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman less than 24 hours after they had met in Neom city at the far north of Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea coastline.
Fishman said the kingdom was angry that the Israeli leader had “showed off” about the last month’s meeting.
The Israeli analyst then dismissed Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud’s denial that any such gathering had happened, noting that news of the meeting was disclosed without Saudi approval and that “the Saudi Foreign Ministry was obliged to completely deny it.”
“In the last few years, Netanyahu is breaking the reporting restrictions policy which served Israel for many years in its external secret relations and in managing sensitive policy affairs,” Fishman wrote
“It is backlashing. They reach an achievement which its strength is in its secrecy, then they turn it into a political tool aiming to glorify the prime minister,” he added.
A member of Netanyahu’s cabinet and Likud party on November 23 confirmed reports that Netanyahu flew to Saudi Arabia for a clandestine meeting with the kingdom’s de facto ruler and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
Earlier in the day, Israel’s Kan public radio and Army Radio said Mossad chief Yossi Cohen also attended the meeting.
The meeting marked the first known encounter between senior Israeli and Saudi officials, amid attempts by Pompeo to coax the Riyadh regime to follow its neighbors, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain, in establishing formal diplomatic relations with Israel.
Following the September 15 signing of US-brokered agreements on normalization between Israel and the UAE and also Bahrain, President Donald Trump announced on October 23 at the White House that Sudan and Israel had also agreed to normalize relations.