Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman attempted to persuade Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to start a conflict with Hamas in Gaza as part of a plan to divert attention from the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, sources inside Saudi Arabia have told Middle East Eye.
A war in Gaza was among a range of measures and scenarios proposed by an emergency task force set up to counter increasingly damaging leaks about Khashoggi’s murder coming from Turkish authorities, according to sources with knowledge of the group’s activities.
The task force, which is composed of officials from the royal court, the foreign and defense ministries, and the intelligence service, briefs the crown prince every six hours, MEE was told.
It advised bin Salman that a war in Gaza would distract Trump’s attention and refocus Washington’s attention on the role Saudi Arabia plays in bolstering Israeli strategic interests, according to the report.
It also advised bin Salman to “neutralize Turkey by all means” – including attempts to bribe Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan with offers to buy Turkish arms and statements by the crown prince attempting to shore up relations between Riyadh and Ankara, MME added.
Saudi Arabia and Israel are considered to have increasingly close secret ties and bin Salman has been a key player in efforts to sell Trump’s “deal of the century”.
Speaking to the BBC earlier this year, Netanyahu said that ‘Israel’ and some Arab nations were going through a process of “subterranean normalization”.
And while Khashoggi’s killing has been widely condemned by world leaders, Netanyahu said earlier this month: “It is very important for the stability of the region and the world that Saudi Arabia remains stable.”