Israeli, Saudi ministers talk at UAE meeting amid Gaza anger

Israeli, Saudi ministers talk at UAE meeting amid Gaza anger
The meeting comes following the derailment of a normalisation process between Saudi Arabia and Israel which had been spearheaded by the US.
2 min read
27 February, 2024
World Trade Organisation talks have been taking place in Abu Dhabi on 26 February [Photo by GIUSEPPE CACACE/AFP via Getty Images]

Israeli Economy and Industry Minister Nir Barkat met his Saudi counterpart on the sidelines of a World Trade Organization (WTO) meeting in Abu Dhabi on Monday, despite anger in the Arab world over the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

The two ministers voices confidence that the countries, which have no formal relations, can "make history together", Barkat's spokesperson said.

The photographed meeting with Saudi Commerce Minister Majid bin Abdullah Al-Qasabi was a rarity with efforts by the US to bring the two countries closer reportedly stalled due to the Gaza war, which has killed 30,000 Palestinians.

"The State of Israel is interested in peace with peace-seeking countries, and we can make history together," Barkat told Qasabi, according to the Israeli minister's office.

Barkat and Qasabi are attending the WTO ministerial conference, which aims to set new global commerce rules.

Saudi Arabia's embassy in Abu Dhabi did not immediately respond to a emailed request for comment on the meeting between the two ministers.

Israel and Saudi Arabia had been broaching economic ties prior to the outbreak of Israel's war on Gaza, with Israeli company SolarEdge Technologies, Inc. partnering with a Saudi counterpart to help develop the countries solar energy infrastructure.

However, since 7 October talks for a normalisation between the two have largely derailed.

Prior to Hamas' attack on 7 October, following months of violent Israeli raids in the West Bank, Israel was adamant that normalisation between the two countries would occur regardless how the resolution of the Palestinian issue.

During an interview with Bloomberg Netanyahu claimed that the statehood for the Palestinians wasn't being discussed in backroom negotiations, while former foreign minister Eli Cohen also dismissing the importance of the Palestinian issue.

However, Saudi Arabia has remained adamant that statehood for the Palestinians is a prerequisite for any normalisation between the two countries and has reiterated this during the Gaza war.

This most recently occurred earlier in February, with the Saudi foreign ministry rebuffing US assertions that normalisation talks were ongoing.

The ministry said that the country would only consider such a proposal with an end to Israel's war on Gaza and the establishment of a Palestinian state.

(Reuters & The New Arab Staff)