Saudis delaying issuing Israeli ministers visas to the Kingdom
Israeli media describe what happened as a "red sign" by Saudi Arabia in the face of "Israel", amid continued talks to normalize relations between the two sides.
Israeli media reported on Monday that Saudi authorities delayed granting visas to Israeli occupation ministers to attend a UNESCO conference scheduled to be held next week, prompting the Israelis to cancel their attendance so far.
The Israeli Channel 13 cited senior Israeli sources as saying that Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen and Education Minister Yoav Kisch were supposed to arrive in Saudi Arabia to attend the conference, but the Israelis decided to cancel their participation due to Saudi procrastination.
Channel 13's political affairs commentator claimed that the Israeli decision came upon advice from the US after talks between American and Israeli sources in recent weeks, suggesting that the Israeli presence in Saudi Arabia is "premature and puts Riyadh in an embarrassing situation."
The Israeli channel described what happened as a "red sign" by Saudi Arabia in the face of "Israel", amid continued talks to normalize relations between the two sides.
Although Israeli occupation ministers will not head to Saudi Arabia, "very low-level" professional bodies will attend the conference, the channel noted.
This comes shortly after Axios reported a scheduled visit by Brett McGurk, White House Coordinator for the Middle East and North Africa, to Saudi Arabia this week.
The website cited four US and Palestinian sources familiar with the issue as saying that McGurk "is expected to travel to Saudi Arabia this week to meet with senior Palestinian officials and discuss a potential Palestinian component of a possible mega-deal between the U.S., Saudi Arabia, and Israel."
According to the sources, "In Saudi Arabia, McGurk is expected to meet with Hussein al-Sheikh, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' deputy, Majed Faraj, the Palestinian intelligence chief, and Majdi Khaldi, Abbas' diplomatic advisor."
Last week, The Wall Street Journal reported that Saudi Arabia looks to resume financial aid to the Palestinian Authority (PA) on the condition that the Palestinian authorities crack down on "militant groups and curb violence in the West Bank."
Saudi Arabia's move is believed to be part of a concrete effort for the Kingdom to "legitimize" "any eventual agreement" with the Israeli occupation. In exchange for funding the PA, Riyadh believes that it would be able to push back on critics accusing it of "sacrificing" the Palestinian people and their efforts to establish an independent state, according to WSJ.
The Palestinian Authority will be sending a senior delegation to Saudi Arabia next week to hold talks with Saudi officials on "what the kingdom can do in talks with Israel to advance flickering hopes of creating a Palestinian state," WSJ wrote, citing Saudi and Palestinian officials informed on the matter.
The WSJ report coincided with The Washington Post's comments on the difficulty in reaching a Saudi-Israeli normalization agreement, which discussed the secret meeting that brought together Israeli Occupation Foreign Minister Eli Cohen and Libyan Foreign Minister Najla al-Mangoush.
The Washington Post cited critics as saying that Cohen's confirmation of the meeting not only endangered al-Mangoush's security but also risked intimidating other governments that might be silently looking toward rapprochement with the Israeli occupation.