US President Donald Trump, flanked by White House senior advisor Jared Kushner and Saudi Arabia's Deputy Crown Prince and Minister of Defense Mohammed bin Salman at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia .
(photo credit: JONATHAN ERNST / REUTERS)
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman used the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to woo President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and gain political support in the White House, according to an extensive report on Sunday in The New York Times.
Quoting multiple sources, the report claimed that Kushner and Bin Salman speak frequently by cellphone and correspond via WhatsApp and text messages, bypassing standard White House procedures that require all contact with foreign leaders to go through the National Security Council.
Two former senior American officials said that the exchanges between the two have continued since the October murder of Jamal Khashoggi
, the Saudi journalist who was dismembered by Saudi agents in Istanbul.
“In addition to offering to help resolve the dispute between Israel and the Palestinians, the Saudis offered hundreds of billions of dollars in deals to buy American weapons and invest in American infrastructure,” the report said.
After meeting with Kushner shortly after the elections in 2016, Saudi officials noted that Kushner’s top priority was in solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“The Palestinian issue first: there is still no clear plan for the American administration toward the Middle East,” the delegation wrote, “except that the central interest is finding a historic solution to support the stability of Israel and solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”
The report said Netanyahu’s goal was to bring about a breakthrough and make the relations between the two countries official before the 2019 Israeli election. Mossad head Yossi Cohen, who was responsible for facilitating Netanyahu’s October 26 visit to Oman
, is Netanyahu’s point man on building relations with the Saudis.
Netanyahu stood behind Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman when he faced international criticism for his alleged role in the murder of Saudi-American journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on October 2.
The report quoted a senior diplomatic source saying Israel has been in contact with multiple Arab states to figure out interests vis-à-vis Iran, apparently including Saudi Arabia.
Netanyahu announced following the Oman trip that “there will be other” such visits to Muslim countries with whom Israel does not currently have diplomatic relations.
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