RIYADH - Saudi Arabia's Foreign Ministry distanced itself on Wednesday from a recent visit to Israel by a number of Saudi citizens, including an outspoken former military general.
An unnamed ministry official told the Saudi-owned al-Hayat newspaper that the rare public engagement "does not reflect the views of the Saudi government."
The official referred to Israel as "the occupied territories."
Saudi Arabia and Israel have no official relations and the kingdom prohibits its citizens from traveling to Israel. It also does not grant visas to Israelis.
However, Saudi government permission was likely necessary for Anwar Eshki and the delegation of Saudi academics and businessmen to make the visit.
While in Jerusalem, Eshki met with the Israeli Foreign Ministry's Director-General, Dore Gold, and a group of opposition Knesset members.
Israeli media reported that Eshki was leading a delegation of "businessmen and academics" on a mission to promote a stalled Saudi-led 2002 Arab peace initiative.
He reportedly met with Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, head of the COGAT, military body that coordinates Israeli activities in the West Bank and Gaza.