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      Saudi Official Shakes Hands with Israelis in Rare Meeting

      Saudi Prince Turki Al-Faisal speaks with MK Meir Sheetrit at conference in Monaco, but refuses invitation to visit the Knesset.
      By Elad Benari
      First Publish: 12/17/2013, 3:12 AM

      Meir Sheetrit
      Meir Sheetrit
      Flash 90

      A rare meeting took place on Sunday between a member of the Saudi royal family and Israeli officials, reports NRG/Maariv.

      The meeting took place at the World Policy Conference in Monaco, where Prince Turki Al-Faisal, former head of the Saudi secret services and formerly his country’s ambassador to the United States, met MK Meir Sheetrit (Hatnua) and Itamar Rabinovich, formerly Israel’s ambassador to the U.S.

      According to NRG/Maariv, the Saudi prince publicly shook hands with Rabinovich and held a discussion with MK Sheetrit.

      The report said that Sheetrit invited the Saudi prince to address the Knesset, to which the prince replied that this would not be beneficial as long as Israel did not accept the Arab peace initiative. He called on Israel to accept the initiative so that details of its implementation can then be discussed.

      The Arab Peace Initiative, unveiled in 2002 by Saudi Arabia, says that 22 Arab countries will normalize ties with Israel in return for an Israeli withdrawal to the indefensible and narrow 1949 armistice line and Israeli acceptance of the "Right of Return" for millions of descendants of Arabs who fled pre-state Israel, effectively bringing an end to the Jewish state.

      It was recently revived when Qatar’s Prime Minister indicated that he supported a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority that would be defined by the June 4, 1967 borders, but at the same time backed proposals for a "comparable and mutual agreed minor swap of the land" between Israel and the PA, to reflect the realities of the burgeoning communities on the ground.

      NRG/Maariv further reported that Prince Turki Al-Faisal lauded the efforts being made by Secretary of State John Kerry in promoting peace talks but, in a hint of criticism against the administration in Washington, said that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas need patronage from a responsible third party and expressed doubts that President Barack Obama could be that responsible party.

      The Saudi prince also related to the nuclear agreement recently signed between the West and Iran and said that the military option must remain on the table and must also be included within the broader framework of discussions on a nuclear-free zone in the Middle East.

      Al-Faisal emphasized Iran's role in bringing troops to Syria and its support for the Hezbollah terror group. He expressed doubts over the effectiveness of temporary six-month agreements, both regarding Iran and the Israeli-PA issues, and said that the agreement with Iran does not guarantee that it will not produce nuclear weapons in the future.

      On the Syrian issue the prince ridiculed President Obama who “set red lines which in time became pink lines which then completely blurred out.”

      The meeting comes on the heels of recent reports in Iran that Israel and Saudi Arabia had teamed up to launch a virus against Iran’s nuclear program. Another Iranian report claimed that the head of the Saudi intelligence service recently met with several senior Israeli security officials, including the head of the Israeli Mossad, in Geneva on November 27.

      Speaking to NRG/Maariv, Prince Al-Faisal said he does “not believe” the validity of the Iranian reports.

      Both of the Iranian reports are unconfirmed, but came on the heels of a report in the British Sunday Times, which recently claimed that Israel and Saudi Arabia may team up to fight Iran if talks between Iran and the West fail to curb Iran’s nuclear program.

      Saudi Arabia later denied the report, clarifying it "has no relations or contacts with Israel of any kind or at any level.”