A member of Israel’s Knesset (parliament) has revealed that Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud helped finance the election campaign of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in 2015.
Citing a massive leak of confidential documents dubbed the “Panama Papers,” Isaac Herzog, who is the chairman of the Israeli Labor party said, “In March 2015, King Salman has deposited eighty million dollars to support Netanyahu’s campaign via a Syrian-Spanish person named Mohamed Eyad Kayali.”
Panama Papers, which detail the offshore wealth of politicians and public figures across the globe, exposed more than 11.5 million financial and legal records earlier in April.
“The money was deposited to a company’s account in British Virgin Islands owned by Teddy Sagi, an Israeli billionaire and businessman, who has allocated the money to fund the campaign [of] Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu,” the lawmaker said.
In the recent past, Netanyahu has on several occasions talked of a budding relationship between Israel and Arab countries.
In March, Netanyahu said Israel’s relations with regional Arab countries are “dramatically warming” in what analysts said was an acknowledgement of behind-the-scenes ties.
Moshe Ya’alon, Israel’s minister of military affairs, in February pointed to open channels between the regime and Arab states.
Ya’alon said he was unable to shake hands with Arab officials in public due to the “sensitive” political realities.
The Israeli minister later publicly shook the hand of Saudi Prince Turki bin Faisal al-Saud, who himself has openly met with a number of Israeli officials in the past.
Israel has covert ties with Arab states despite their claims that they would normalize relations with Tel Aviv only when it reaches a deal with the Palestinians. This is while the two sides “can meet in closed rooms,” according to Ya’alon.
Last month, the Jerusalem Post wrote that “rather than being isolated, Israel is being incorporated into the Saudi-led orbit.”
“Part of this includes the opening of a mission in Abu Dhabi and increasing contacts in the [Persian] Gulf States,” it said.
A former general in the Saudi military has also said recently that the kingdom would open an embassy in Tel Aviv if Israel accepted an Arab initiative to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Riyadh also maintains secret military ties with the Tel Aviv regime.
In April, Sheikh Naim Qassem, the deputy secretary general of Lebanon’s Hezbollah resistance movement, said Israel was training Saudi military forces under the framework of clandestine relations.
Dozens of Saudi military officers were being trained following secret contacts that led to military cooperation, he said.
“The Saudis are currently fulfilling the cycle of the Israeli project in public and secret meetings,” he added.