Dozens of Israeli business and tech personalities visit Saudi Arabia – report

Dozens of Israeli tech entrepreneurs and businessmen reportedly flew to Saudi Arabia recently for high-level talks about Saudi investments in Israeli companies and Israeli investment funds. Report (Hebrew) in Globe Business Daily.

Israel and Saudi Arabia do not have formal diplomatic relations, but secret ties have grown in recent years as Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman sees Israel as a strategic partner in the fight against Iranian influence in the region. heated up.

The Saudi kingdom did not sign the Washington-brokered Abraham deal in 2020, as the US and Israel had hoped, but Riyadh is Believe Bahrain has been approved to retain decisive influence in Bahrain, joining the United Arab Emirates, Morocco and Sudan in the normalization agreement with Israel.

Additionally, following the signing of the agreement, Saudi Arabia began allowing EL AL to use its airspace for flights between the UAE and Bahrain. But Israel has yet to get such flights to India, Thailand and China, so those flights are taking much longer than they need.

Businessmen and entrepreneurs who recently visited Saudi Arabia entered the kingdom with Israeli passports, which include special visas, the Globe reported on Thursday.

Israel and Saudi Arabia have signed a number of civil and defense deals in Europe and other countries, including a multi-million-dollar agricultural technology deal and a second Israeli water deal, the report said. technical solutions. Globes said Saudi officials have been closely monitoring the progress of the two deals.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman speaks at the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) summit in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, December 14, 2021. (Bandar Aljaloud/Saudi Royal Palace via AP)

The Saudis have also expressed interest in Israeli medical and health technology solutions and Israeli “products”, the report said, without elaborating.

The report comes weeks after Saudi Arabia is believed to be Plan to allocate millions Invest dollars in Israeli tech companies through Jared Kushner’s new private equity firm.

Kushner, the son-in-law and former senior adviser to former U.S. President Donald Trump, founded Affinity Partners late last year to raise About $3 billion in committed funding from international investors including Saudi Arabia.

In this Aug. 13, 2020, file photo, White House senior adviser Jared Kushner speaks during a news conference at the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnick, file)

A Wall Street Journal report in early May said Riyadh had eyed investments in two Israeli companies, although neither the names of the companies nor the industries they operate in were disclosed. The investment is “the first known instance that cash from the Saudi Public Investment Fund will flow directly to Israel, demonstrating the country’s growing willingness to do business with the country, even though they have no diplomatic relations,” the report said.

For months, Israeli businessmen were invited by Saudi entities to fly to Saudi Arabia on special entry visas, the Globe reported on Thursday.They visited the capital Lida and Niom, a Red Sea town where the kingdom planned Incorporating smart city technologies This could include an Israeli solution. Neom is part of Saudi Vision 2030, a national blueprint for economic, social and cultural progress.

In late 2020, former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and former Mossad chief Yossi Cohen, along with other Israeli officials and then-U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, are said to have visited the city Meeting with the crown prince, the first known high-level meeting between Israeli and Saudi leaders.

Schematic diagram of the planned Neom city in Saudi Arabia. (neom.com)

According to public broadcaster Kan, Netanyahu and Cohen traveled to Saudi Arabia on businessman Ehud Angel’s private jet — the same plane the then prime minister used during a secret visit to Oman in 2019.

Saudi sources in the Globe report on Thursday said authorities had seen an increase in local requests to host Israeli businessmen in the country.

US officials in Riyadh

Separately, a report from Axios last week said the travel to saudi arabia Secretly negotiating a deal that could boost Washington’s ties with Riyadh while also bringing the kingdom closer to normalizing ties with Israel.

National Security Council Middle East coordinator Brett McGurk and State Department energy envoy Amos Hochstein arrived in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday to meet with senior Saudi officials, Axios said, citing three current and former U.S. officials.

Tiran Island in the Red Sea, Egypt, February 10, 2017. (AP/Nariman El-Mofty)

Two days ago, Axios reported that the Biden administration was brokering talks aimed at finalizing the transfer of the Red Sea islands of Tiran and Sanafir from Egypt to Saudi Arabia.

In 2017, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi ratified a treaty to hand over the islands to Saudi Arabia. The deal withstood protests and legal challenges in Egypt but was never finalized.

The two Red Sea islands featured prominently in the Israel-Egypt peace agreement signed in 1979, which promised the safe passage of Israeli civilian and military ships through the narrow waterways of the Strait of Tiran.

Screenshot of the Strait of Tiran from Google Maps, with location pins. (Screenshot/Google Maps)

As part of a 1979 agreement, Egypt agreed to demilitarize the islands and allow a U.S.-led multinational observer force to patrol the islands. Therefore, their move to Saudi Arabia requires a certain level of Israeli support to move forward.

The Strait of Tiran is Israel’s only waterway from Eilat to the Red Sea, allowing Israel to travel to and from Africa and Asia without going through the Suez Canal, and from Eilat to and from the Suez Canal for Mediterranean travel.

Nonetheless, Axios reported citing U.S. and Israeli sources that Israel approved the island transfer in principle, while asking it to find an agreed solution to the multinational observer force.

National Security Council Middle East Coordinator Brett McGurk and State Department Energy Special Envoy Amos Hochstein. (AP/Collage)

The report said the multinational force was a major sticking point in the negotiations, as Riyadh agreed to keep the islands demilitarized, while so far refusing to deploy such a force on its territory. Instead, Riyadh has pledged to maintain full freedom of navigation for ships through the Strait of Tiran.

Israeli negotiators expressed willingness to abandon the multinational force, but demanded other security arrangements, the report said.

Jerusalem also asked Saudi Arabia to take some steps to normalize relations with the Jewish state — namely allowing more Israeli flights to use Saudi airspace and allowing direct flights between Israel and Saudi Arabia so that Muslims can easily travel to the holy city of Mai Medina of Canada and Ben Gurion Airport.