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Saudis left 'angry and humiliated' after Netanyahu rejected secret peace deal in 2014 Open in fullscreen

The New Arab

Saudis left 'angry and humiliated' after Netanyahu rejected secret peace deal in 2014

Netanyahu met with Saudi national security adviser Bandar bin Sultan in secret [Getty]

Date of publication: 13 February, 2019

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A new report details Saudi fury after Israel rejected an under-the-table peace initiative in 2014, for which the Saudis went 'out of their way toward Israel'.
In the latest of a series of revelations about the rapprochement between Saudi Arabia and Israel, a report has uncovered the rise and fall of a Saudi peace initiative presented to the Israelis following the 2014 Gaza War.

The plan, which was reportedly developed over several meetings between Prime Minister Netanyahu and high-ranking Saudi officials, was eventually rejected by Israel, leaving the Saudis furious and rupturing the nascent alliance until King Salman ascended to power a year later.

The report, which draws on three anonymous sources, details that on the final day of the war in 2014, Netanyahu held a secret meeting with a special envoy from then-Saudi king Abdullah. In it, the Saudis proposed an official joint initiative to relaunch Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations, as well as united efforts for the reconstruction of Gaza and on confronting Iran.

The Saudis planned for Netanyahu and the Saudi foreign miniser to present the plan in public, to the UN General Assembly. This would have been an unprecedented move, as despite years of behind-the-scenes cooperation between the two regional counterweights, they have shunned moves to officially normalise ties.

According to the report, the initiative was sparked during a secret meeting between Netanyahu and then-Saudi national security adviser Prince Bandar bin Sultan, in a third country.

Despite initial excitement from both sides, the plan collapsed after Saudi asked Israel to be more flexible with its demands, leading to Netanyahu scrapping the plan entirely.

According to the report's sources, the Saudis were enraged after feeling they "went out of their way toward Israel", and were left "angry and humiliated", accusing Netanyahu of lying to them.
The revelation comes as Netanyahu hints he may use the Warsaw Middle East summit to make public his country's much-discussed ties with Arab Gulf states
The revelation comes as Netanyahu hints he may use the Warsaw Middle East summit to make public his country's much-discussed ties with Arab Gulf states.

Channel 13's dispatch also included the revelation that Israel's former Mossad chief made an unprecendented secret visit to Saudi Arabia in 2014, in an effort to rally support against Iranian influence.

Intelligence chief Tamir Pardo also met with Prince Bandar bin Sultan to discuss the Iranian issue shortly after the nuclear deal was signed between Iran and the major powers.

The report, quoting unidentified Western diplomats, said that by the end of 2013, following the signing of the interim nuclear deal, there was a major breakthrough in relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia.

The ultra-conservative kingdom, concerned about international rapprochement with its regional nemesis, reportedly decided to ally with Israel, who is equally opposed to any move that will enable the strengthening of Iranian influence.

Bandar bin Sultan is believed to have developed the sharing of Saudi and Israeli intelligence during his tenure as director general of the Saudi Intelligence Agency from 2012 to 2014, before he became King Abdullah's envoy and adviser.

These ties have accelerated since Mohammed bin Salman became crown prince and de facto ruler, as he has also been developing an anti-Iranian front to include Hizballah and Lebanon.

The major impetus for closer ties in recent years has been a shared concern about the security threat from Iran coupled with the ever-lower priority given the Palestinian issue in countries such as Saudi Arabia and the UAE

According to a regional expert on Saudi Arabia, who spoke to The New Arab under condition of anonymity, the Gulf and Israel have been in communication “for some time.”

“The major impetus for closer ties in recent years has been a shared concern about the security threat from Iran coupled with the ever-lower priority given to the Palestinian issue in countries such as Saudi Arabia and the UAE,” they added.

However, the Saudis are wary of letting this be known at home without demonstrating some sway on the Palestinian issue, they added.

This may explain the reason King Salman publicly reaffirmed his support for a future Palestinian state on Tuesday. Meeting with the President of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas, the Saudi monarch said his country "permanently stands by Palestine and its people's right to an independent state with east Jerusalem as its capital", reported the official Saudi Press Agency.

The pledge comes as the United States is expected to offer hints of its proposals for peace between Israel and the Palestinians at a conference on Wednesday in Warsaw, Poland.

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