BEIRUT, Lebanon – A secret meeting between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Saudi Arabia`s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman would be a historic first, indicating that the two countries are making progress in establishing formal diplomatic relations. The Saudi foreign minister later denied that all Israeli officials participated in the meeting between Prince Mohammed and Pompeo. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly flew to Saudi Arabia last week for a secret meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, hoping to reach an agreement that would normalize relations between Saudi Arabia and Israel. But he returned empty-handed after Prince Mohammed`s withdrawal, the Wall Street Journal reported. According to Hannu Juusola [fi] at the University of Helsinki, the agreement meant that the Palestinians would think that the United Arab Emirates would put its own interests ahead of those of the Palestinians, who always assumed that Arab countries would not sign peace agreements with Israel until Palestinian rights were guaranteed.  Other leaders and groups, including the Islamic Jihad Movement in Palestine, unanimously rejected the agreement, according to Al Jazeera. Mustafa Barghouti, head of the Palestinian National Initiative, said they were not surprised by the recent actions taken by the United Arab Emirates and the fact that the Emiratis had never attempted to fight Israel. He added that this could encourage other nations to ignore the Palestinian issue.
The head of the Palestine Liberation Front, Wasel Abu Yousef, said the agreement would only give Israel greater influence over its occupation. ANP Social Affairs Minister Ahmed Majdalani said they did not know the agreement in advance and that the UAE was bartering the others, while unilaterally changing the Arab world`s approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  His reasoning, Saudi advisers and U.S. officials told the Journal, was President-elect Joe Biden`s victory over President Trump in the U.S. general election. Although the Trump administration was a factor in the recent Abraham agreements, which normalized relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, Prince Mohammed claims to want to establish ties with Biden and hesitate to follow suit while Trump was still in place, although the chances of that happening are not impossible.