Justice Minister Tzipi Livni last week reportedly attended a dinner in New York with foreign ministers and senior officials from a number of Arab nations, among them some that do not have diplomatic relations with Israel.
Livni, a former foreign minister, was in New York last Monday, officially to attend a formal event organized by former US president Bill Clinton and former secretary of state Hillary Clinton, who is expected to run for president in 2016.
However, according to Israeli news source Walla, following the event, she was invited to a small dinner of about 20 people that was closed to the media.
Among the attendees were Arab League Secretary General Nabil Elaraby, Lebanese foreign minister Jubran Bassel, Egyptian foreign affairs minister Sameh Shukri, Jordan’s foreign minister, Nasser Judeh, Kuwaiti foreign minister, Sheikh Khaled al-Sabah and United Arab Emirates foreign minister Abdullah bin Zayed.
Also in attendance was Saudi Prince Turki bin Faisal al-Saud, former director of Saudi intelligence and a former ambassador to the US, who told Livni warmly at a security conference in Munich earlier this year that he understood “why you are the negotiator for Israel.”
The group discussed various regional issues, including Israel-Palestinian peace prospects and fighting terrorism.
It was not clear if the meeting was held under the auspices of Israel’s Foreign Ministry. Livni’s office and the Foreign Ministry could not immediately be reached for comment.
Almost all of the Arab officials in attendance are participating in a US-led coalition to fight extremist groups, such as the Islamic State, operating in Syria and Iraq. Israel has also pledged to provide intelligence support to the effort.
They were joined by Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird and former under secretary general Terje Rød-Larsen of Norway.
Livni, the only Israeli at the dinner, served as foreign minister from 2006 to 2009, during which time she fostered ties with the Arab world, including meeting with Qatari and Omani officials.
Though officially serving as justice minister, Livni was tasked with managing talks with the Palestinians over nine months from 2013 to 2014.