High profile Saudi Arabian and Israeli officials secretly met during Israel's 2014 offensive on the Gaza Strip, with Saudi proposing a peace plan.
According to Arab 48, Israel's Channel 13 yesterday revealed that Saudi Arabia presented Israel with a peace initiative that included reconstructing Gaza, resuming talks with the Palestinians and laying down a joint strategy to face Iranian hegemony on the last day of the 2014 Israeli offensive on the besieged enclave. Israel however turned the Saudi initiative down.
Citing three informed sources, the Israeli TV channel said that Saudi Arabia suggested that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declare the plan in a joint speech with then Saudi foreign minister Saud Al Faisal. The pair was supposed to declare the plan at the UN General Assembly meeting, which was held in October of that year.
Channel 13 also stated that Netanyahu was enthusiastic about the initiative, pointing out he reached an initial deal with Saudi intelligence chief Bandar Bin Sultan that would mobilise international opinion in support of the plan.
To this end, Netanyahu met with aides of Bin Sultan – who had been in charge of Saudi-Israel relations for decades – to write down the peace plan.
Israel presented a draft of the plan and the Saudis accepted it, but asked Israel for few concessions. Netanyahu then refused, the sources said, causing the Saudis to freeze relations and blame Netanyahu for the failure, describing him as a "liar".
Direct Saudi-Israel relations remained frozen for a year, but were eventually unfrozen by a meeting between Bin Sultan and Netanyahu after the death of King Abdullah Bin Abdel-Aziz and the instatement of the new King Salman Bin Abdel-Aziz in January 2015.
Channel 13 added that, after the nuclear deal between Iran and the West later that year, Saudi Arabia received the plane of Israeli Mossad Chief Tamir Pardo in Saudi capital Riyadh, as the Saudis were afraid of a rapprochement between Iran and the US.
Pardo met with the Saudis – including Bin Sultan – in a third party country because such a meeting was deemed to be "breaking taboos". The meetings were therefore kept top secret. During those meetings, Bin Sultan asked Pardo to persuade Israel not to object to a weapons deal between the US and the Kingdom.