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Saudi Ex-General Says Israel Visit Is Not Sign Of Normalization

The Times of Israel reports: A retired Saudi general who visited Israel last week and met Israeli officials as head of a delegation of academics and businessmen, denied Tuesday that the trip was part of efforts to normalize ties between Jerusalem and Riyadh.

Dr. Anwar Eshki told the Israeli Arabic radio station Radio Shams that he came to Israel after being invited to the West Bank city of Ramallah by the Palestinian Authority. The visit, which included meetings with Foreign Ministry Director-General Dore Gold, the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories Maj.-Gen. Yoav Mordechai, and several MKs, was not an official trip, he said.

“My visit was not coordinated with the Saudi royal house and I did not receive a green light from Saudi Arabia,” he told Al-Shams, according to Haaretz. “I came on my own behalf and that of the research institute. However, there were those who tried to exploit the visit and its timing in order to attack Saudi Arabia. In Israel, too, they exploited the visit to report on closer [relations] and normalization.”

The general also rejected reports he was in Israel to discuss modifying the Arab Peace Initiative, which was initially created by Riyadh in 2002, and formerly known as the Saudi Peace Initiative.

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