0547 GMT August 10, 2022
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who was in Israel last week, was also at the secret talks, a diplomatic correspondent at Israeli public broadcaster Kan said on Monday, AFP reported.
The broadcaster cited unnamed Israeli officials as saying that Netanyahu and the head of the Mossad spy agency, Yossi Cohen, "flew yesterday to Saudi Arabia and met Pompeo and MBS in the city of Neom", referring to the often used initials of the Saudi prince.
The reported meeting comes weeks after Israel agreed US-brokered deals to normalize ties with two Saudi allies in the Persian Gulf, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, with pacts known as the Abraham Accords.
Multiple other Israeli media outlets reported on a Netanyahu trip to Saudi Arabia, including prominent diplomatic correspondent Barak Ravid of Walla News and Axios, who reported Netanyahu and Cohen flew on a plane belonging to Israeli businessman Udi Angel.
A Gulfstream IV private jet took off just after 1740 GMT from Ben-Gurion International Airport near Tel Aviv, according to data from website FlightRadar24.com. The flight traveled south along the eastern edge of the Sinai Peninsula before turning toward Neom and landing just after 1830 GMT, according to the data. The flight took off from Neom around 2150 GMT and followed the same route back to Tel Aviv, AP wrote.
Pompeo had traveled to Neom on Sunday from the UAE as part of a Middle East tour.
The Abraham Accords were brokered by outgoing US President Donald Trump's administration.
American and Israeli officials have repeatedly indicated that more Arab states were set to forge ties with Israel. Sudan has agreed to do so in principle.
In late August, Netanyahu said Israel was holding secret talks with multiple Arab countries.
Publicly, Saudi Arabia has said it would stick to the decades-old Arab League position of not having ties with Israel until the Israeli regime’s conflict with the Palestinians is resolved.
Israeli experts have raised questions about the prospects of expanding the Abraham Accords under US President-elect Joe Biden's administration, particularly with respect to Saudi Arabia.
The Trump administration downplayed the role of human rights in international diplomacy, and in particular was cautious about criticizing Saudi Arabia's rights record, notably over the murder by Saudi agents of prominent journalist and Saudi royal critic Jamal Khashoggi.
With Trump's term set to end on January 20, some experts have speculated that Washington would lobby hard for an Israeli-Saudi deal before Biden takes office.
Israel has long had clandestine ties to Persian Gulf Arab states that have strengthened in recent years.
Saudi Arabia approved the use of its airspace for Israeli flights to the UAE, a decision announced the day after Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, met with the Saudi crown prince in Riyadh.