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Second Israeli minister visits Saudi Arabia in a week

Second Israeli minister visits Saudi Arabia in a week amid normalisation talks
2 min read
01 October, 2023
With two Israeli ministers visiting Saudi Arabia within one week, many believe it marks the beginning of a change in relations between the two counties that ends with normalisation.
Shlomo Karhi is the second Israeli minister to visit Saudi Arabia [Getty]

Israel's Minister for Communications Shlomo Karhi has touched down in Riyadh on Sunday to attend the World Postal Union conference, in the second visit by an Israeli minister to Saudi Arabia within a week.

Also in attendance were Likud Chairman of the Knesset Economic Committee David Bitan and other unnamed senior Israeli officials.

Representatives from the Israeli Postal Authority participated via Zoom.

Karhi’s visit to Riyadh follows last week's visit of Israeli Minister of Tourism Haim Katz to the kingdom for a UN World Tourism Organisation event.

Katz’s visit marked the first-ever public trip by an Israeli cabinet minister to Saudi Arabia.

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The Israeli governmental visits to Riyadh come at a time when momentum is gathering on the two countries signing a historic normalisation agreement.

In an interview with Fox News that aired on September 20, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) said such an agreement was getting "closer".

"Every day we get closer," the prince, who is the kingdom's de facto ruler, said.

The only stumbling blocks seem to be the kingdom seeking more progress on ensuring the rights of the Palestinians, while Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's hard-right government continues to pursue the expansion of illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank.

However, US sources have indicated that the Saudis would be willing to go ahead with Israeli normalisation even if Tel Aviv offers no major concession to Palestinian demands.

According to reports, if the US ties up a major security with the kingdom, including giving it the official status of a major non-NATO ally,  Riyadh would be willing to abandon its conditions about Palestine.