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Another Israeli minister arrives in Saudi Arabia amid normalisation

Visit comes less than week after Israeli tourism minister landed in oil-rich country last week, first official trip to kingdom

By Web Desk
October 03, 2023
A plaque reserving the seat of the delegation from Israel is seen during the UNESCO Extended 45th session of the World Heritage Committee in Riyadh on September 11, 2023. — AFP

Israeli MinisterCommunications Minister Shlomo Karhi landed in Saudi Arabia Monday to attend a meeting of a UN specialised agency in the capital Riyadh as the two Middle Eastern countries are on the course of normalising their bilateral relations.

Universal Postal Union is a UN agency which seeks to facilitate international collaboration in the postal sector.

The visit comes less than a week after an Israeli tourism ministerHaim Katz touched down in the oil-rich country last week in the first official trip to the kingdom to attend a UN tourism conference.

During his visit, Karhi is likely to deliver a speech and meet with officials including the US ambassador to Saudi Arabia and Turkey's communications minister, a statement from his office said.

"He is heading a 14-member delegation that includes lawmaker David Bitan and representatives of the foreign ministry," the statement said.

Saudi Arabia, home to the holiest sites in Islam, Mecca and Medina, has never recognised Israel and long insisted it would not do so without a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and a just settlement for Palestinian refugees.

However, the administration of US President Joe Biden is pushing for a landmark deal that could reorder the Middle East.

Riyadh is bargaining hard for security guarantees from Washington as well as assistance with a civilian nuclear programme that would have uranium enrichment capacity.

The Palestinians have warned that they must be taken into account in any deal, and it is unclear what concessions Israel might be willing to make.

Last week the White House said Saudi Arabia and Israel were moving towards the outline of a deal.

"All sides have hammered out, I think, a basic framework for what, you know, what we might be able to drive at," National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters.

His comments came on the heels of a visit to Riyadh by Israeli Tourism Minister Haim Katz, who attended a United Nations World Tourism Organization event, becoming the first Israeli minister to head an official delegation to the kingdom.