Israeli minister hails ‘blossoming’ ties with Saudi Arabia during visit to Riyadh

Shlomo Karhi is the second cabinet member to make a public visit to the kingdom in recent weeks

Israeli Communication Minister Shlomo Karhi prays in Riyadh. Photo: Israel Ministry of Communications
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Israeli Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi hailed his country's “blossoming ties” with Saudi Arabia during a visit to Riyadh amid continuing US-brokered negotiations to establish formal relations.

Mr Karhi is the second Israeli official to make a public visit to the kingdom in as many weeks as Israel and Saudi Arabia gradually move towards formally establishing ties.

“We greatly appreciate the tireless efforts of the leaders of Saudi Arabia, and our prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, for nurturing the blossoming ties between our nations,” Mr Karhi told the meeting of the Universal Postal Union, a specialised UN agency intended to encourage international co-operation in the postal sector, in Riyadh.

“As demonstrated by the Abraham Accords, when nations converge on mutual goals, the outcomes can be monumentally transformative,” Mr Karhi added.

Saudi Arabia did not join the US-brokered Abraham Accords, which saw the UAE, Bahrain and Morocco establish formal ties with Israel in 2020.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman told Fox News that Riyadh was “getting closer” to establishing diplomatic relations with Israel.

Riyadh is seeking a US-brokered deal that would entail a new defence pack and a civilian nuclear programme, sources from Saudi Arabia's Foreign Ministry have confirmed to The National in recent weeks.

US President Joe Biden’s administration has been committed to normalising relations between both countries and has for several months been in talks on the matter.

Senior US officials have been operating between Riyadh and Tel Aviv, while officials are working closely with Palestinian representatives on parts of the wider deal.

Officials have insisted that any deal Saudi Arabia signs with Israel must honour an agreement that is fair to Palestinians, based on a two-state solution and the Arab Peace initiative Riyadh proposed during the Arab Summit in Beirut in 2002.

“With Israel, there is no freebies in this region. The GCC countries are not really in a position to do something extra rather than only look after their interest and their people’s interest,” Saudi political analyst Ali Alibrahim told The National.

“They [Riyadh] are looking also for the benefit of the Palestinian people, they are looking for their dignity. So it has to be solid and defined 100 per cent. It has to be airtight,” he added.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is expected to make another round of visits to the region by making potential stops in both Israel and Saudi Arabia later this month amid a diplomatic push to bring broker the deal, according to sources.

While the US State Department has yet to confirm or formally announce Mr Blinken’s trip, his visit is said to include a stop in Ramallah to meet the Palestinian Authority.

Updated: October 05, 2023, 6:44 AM