The government of Saudi Arabia denied on Sunday that its officials embarked on a secret diplomatic visit to Israel in September, following reports in Israeli media that a Saudi royal recently traveled to the Jewish state.
“Reports of a secret visit to Israel by a Saudi official, which have appeared on some media, are unfounded,” a spokesperson from the Saudi Foreign Ministry said, the kingdom’s SPA news agency reported. “Saudi Arabia has always been transparent as regards to contacts and visits.”
The Saudi denial follows reports by Israeli radio in September that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman visited Israel and secretly met with Israeli government officials. Israel has not confirmed nor denied the reports.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly stated in recent years that Arab nations are becoming more open to relations with the Jewish state, particularly due to shared concern about Iran.
In June, the US, Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Saudi Arabia and Jordan reportedly agreed in secret negotiations to coordinate the first flight of Palestinian pilgrims to Saudi Arabia from Israel’s Ben-Gurion International Airport, to visit the holiest Islamic sites in Mecca and Medina during Ramadan.