Israel’s Netanyahu refused secret Saudi plan including joint front against Iran: report

DAILY SABAH WITH WIRES
ISTANBUL
Published 13.02.2019 14:54
Updated 13.02.2019 18:57
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gives a statement during his visit to a navy base in Haifa, Israel, February 12, 2019. (Reuters Photo)
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gives a statement during his visit to a navy base in Haifa, Israel, February 12, 2019. (Reuters Photo)

On the final day of Israel's destructive Operation Protective Edge, which killed more than 2,200 Palestinians in 2014, Saudi Arabia offered the apartheid state a plan including a joint front against Iran, but Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu refused it, Channel 13 reported on Wednesday.

The channel also added that Tamir Pardo, Israeli spy agency Mossad's then-chief who worked between 2011 and 2016, also paid a highly confidential visit to Saudi Arabia at the time.

The Saudi plan included assistance to the illegally blockaded Gaza Strip and restarting Israeli - Palestinian peace negotiations, while being described as an "upgraded version of the Arab Peace Initiative," according to the channel.

The report said Saudi officials "went further than they have ever gone" and agreed in large part to Israel's demands, but wanted more flexibility from their counterparts, resulting in the collapse of the talks until King Salman took the throne and controversial Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman took the helm.

Netanyahu also met with the then-chairman of the National Security Council of Saudi Arabia, Prince Bandar bin Sultan al Saud, in an undisclosed third country.

Increased tensions between Tehran and Riyadh have fueled speculation that shared interests may push Saudi Arabia and Israel to work together against what they see as a common Iranian threat.

Saudi Arabia opened its airspace for the first time to a commercial flight to Israel last year, which an Israeli official hailed as historic following two years of efforts.

In November 2017, an Israeli cabinet member disclosed covert contacts with Saudi Arabia, a rare acknowledgment of long-rumored secret dealings which Riyadh still denies.

Conducted between July and August in 2014, Operation Protective Edge killed over 2,200 Palestinians, according to Gaza officials, Israel and foreign observers. The Palestinians say most of the dead were civilians. Israel says more than half were Hamas fighters. Israel lost 67 soldiers and six civilians in the war.

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