Israeli minister arrives in Saudi in first public visit
The Israeli occupation's tourism minister arrives in Saudi Arabia for the first public visit from the Israeli occupation to the kingdom.
Israeli Tourism Minister Haim Katz made the first overt official visit from the Israeli occupation to Saudi Arabia, with his office saying the trip was for a United Nations conference.
"Tourism is a bridge between nations," Katz's office quoted him as saying. "Cooperation in the field of tourism has the potential to bring hearts together, and economic progress."
He further pledged to advance "cooperation, tourism, and the foreign relations of Israel."
HISTORIC 🇮🇱🇸🇦: Tourism Minister Haim Katz makes history as the first #Israeli government minister to attend a United Nations World Tourism Organization conference in #SaudiArabia pic.twitter.com/TaQNHEbxGt— Aimen Jamil (@jamil_aimen) September 26, 2023
According to the office, Katz landed in Riyadh on Tuesday to attend the UN conference, with the minister issuing a statement saying he would "act to create cooperation to advance tourism and Israel's foreign relations."
The visit comes after a recent statement by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman who admitted that Saudi Arabia was getting closer to normalizing ties with the Israeli occupation in an interview with Fox News.
Saudi Arabia has been seeking US assistance to develop a civilian nuclear program as part of ongoing talks brokered by the US aimed at normalizing relations between Riyadh and "Israel." This intricate arrangement could reshape Middle East geopolitics.
In response to reports that US and Israeli officials were discussing a US-managed uranium enrichment program in Saudi Arabia, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman stated that if Iran were to "acquire a nuclear weapon," Saudi Arabia would feel compelled to follow suit.
A contentious issue
The negotiations for a potential normalization deal involve the US providing Riyadh with security assurances and support for a civilian nuclear program. In return, Saudi Arabia would normalize relations with "Israel" and seek concessions from it regarding the Palestinian issue.
The matter of allowing Saudi Arabia to develop a civil nuclear program has been one of the most contentious aspects of these talks. Concerns have arisen over the potential for uranium enrichment in Saudi Arabia, as it could eventually facilitate nuclear weapon production. The US has been more inclined toward Saudi Arabia procuring nuclear fuel from the international market rather than enabling on-site uranium enrichment.
However, US officials have recently shown openness to Saudi Arabia's requests for civil nuclear cooperation and discussed ways to address Israeli concerns regarding Saudi uranium enrichment.
While some members of the Israeli security establishment have reservations about endorsing a US-backed Saudi nuclear program, others argue that Saudi Arabia has alternative options if the US rejects its demands.
Meanwhile, in a series of interviews with US media outlets following his address at the United Nations General Assembly, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu revealed details of what he referred to as a "historic deal" with Saudi Arabia.
In an interview with Fox News, he said "I think we're getting closer to peace every day that passes," emphasizing the urgency of the situation, stating, "We have a limited window of opportunity to reach an agreement in the coming months, otherwise - the process could take years."
Highlighting the collaborative effort between the United States, Saudi Arabia, and "Israel", Netanyahu noted, "I think that when you have three leaders and three countries that avidly want a result – the United States under President Biden, Saudi Arabia under the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and Israel under my premiership – I think that really raises the possibility we'll succeed."
Moreover, the visit is taking place on the heels of the announcement that a delegation from Saudi Arabia was set to arrive in Ramallah on Tuesday to discuss the topic of normalization between Riyadh and the Israeli occupation.
The Saudi officials will be led by the newly appointed, non-resident ambassador to the Palestinian Authority Nayef bin Bandar al-Sudairi, the Arab affairs commentator on Channel 13 Hezi Simantov said. Al-Sudairi is the kingdom's first-ever ambassador to the Palestinian Authority and carries out his duties from Jordan.