Foreign Ministry Director-General Dore Gold
Foreign Ministry Director-General Dore GoldHadas Parush/Flash90

Israeli government officials met with a former Saudi Arabian general with close ties to the government in Riyadh, the Israeli Foreign Ministry said Sunday.

Foreign Ministry Director General Dore Gold met Anwar Eshki at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, during a rare visit by the Arab official to Israel.

Eshki heads the Middle East Centre for Strategic and Legal Studies thinktank, but maintains close ties to the Saudi Arabian government, and his trip is likely to have been closely coordinated with authorities in the gulf state.

Israel and Saudi Arabia have no official diplomatic relations, but the two countries have forged unprecedented informal ties in the face of regional threats, most notably Iran and the United States's appeasement of the Islamic Republic over its nuclear program.

Saudi Arabia is also the sponsor of the so-called "Saudi Initiative", which would require Israel to cede Judea and Samaria and enable the formation of a Palestinian Arab state, in exchange for a full normalization of ties with the Arab world. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu recently reiterated his interest in the agreement, though with some "alterations."

Apart from Gold, Eshki also reportedly met with the IDF's Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories Maj.-Gen. Yoav Mordechai, and a number of opposition MKs.

Gold and Eshki had met before in Washington last year, as the former began his role as administrative head of the foreign ministry. With Netanyahu still formally holding on the the foreign minister portfolio, Gold regularly acts as Israel's de-facto top diplomat, and recently headed delegations to several African nations to reopen ties with the Jewish state.

In Palestinian Authority media, Eshki confirmed the visit but said only that he had visited "Palestine and Jerusalem, not Israel."