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Israeli 'invites Saudi crown prince'

Published: December 14, 2017 22:25:49 | Updated: December 15, 2017 19:17:26


Amid growing concern over the contentious Jerusalem issue, Israel's Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz has invited Saudi Arabia's crown prince to visit Israel in an interview with a Saudi news outlet, according to Haaretz.

Katz confirmed to the Israeli daily that he extended the invitation to Mohammed bin Salman on Wednesday in the interview with the UK-based independent news website Elaph.

According to Haaretz, the excerpt with the invitation was edited out of the final version of the wide-ranging interview.

Katz, in the interview, described Saudi Arabia as the "leader of the Arab world" and recommended that peace negotiations between the Palestinians and Israel happen under the kingdom's auspices.

Israeli-Palestinian talks have been at a standstill, but US President Donald Trump had pledged to revive talks, with the US acting as a mediator in the process.

Last week, Trump's decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital, while planning to move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, prompted Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to "disqualify" the US to act as a mediator in future talks.

According to Aljazeera.com, Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud has reiterated the kingdom's stated commitment to a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital.

This has been the kingdom's official position on Trump's decision. The US move triggered a wave of protests from the Arab and Islamic world.

However, according to a Reuters news agency report, Mohammed bin Salman is said to be acting on behalf of senior White House advisor Jared Kushner, and has presented Abbas with an American plan for Middle East peace.

Officials from Saudi Arabia and Israel reportedly met in the past and a handful of similar invitations have been extended.

Last month, Israeli Communications Minister Ayoub Kara invited Saudi Arabia's Grand Mufti Abdul Aziz al-Sheikh to visit Israel. Several days later, Israel's chief-of-staff Gadi Eizenkot gave the first-ever official interview to Elaph, saying that Israel is ready to share intelligence with Saudi Arabia on Iran.

Though Saudi Arabia does not officially maintain diplomatic ties with Israel, recent developments appeared to have pushed Riyadh and Tel Aviv closer together.

Analysts have said the covert ties between the two countries are based on the "common threat" of Iran and are part of a new regional dynamic.

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