Saudi Ambassador Naif Al-Sudairi leaves after his meeting with Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad Al-Malki in the West Bank City of Ramallah, 26 September 2023. EFE-EPA/ALAA BADARNEH

2nd Israeli minister visits Saudi Arabia amid US mediation efforts

Jerusalem, Oct 3 (EFE).- Israeli Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi landed in Riyadh on Tuesday, becoming the second member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s cabinet to visit Saudi Arabia in eight days amid ongoing American efforts to normalize diplomatic ties between the two nations.

The visit comes days after Tourism Minister Haim Katz visited the kingdom on his first trip as a member of the Israeli government, hinting at a potential normalization of bilateral ties.

Karhi is leading a 14-member delegation to the fourth Extraordinary Congress of the Universal Postal Union being held in Riyadh.

Last week, Tourism Minister Haim Katz became the first senior Israeli official to visit Saudi Arabia, attending a conference on the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) in Riyadh.

Israel and Saudi Arabia are edging closer to normalizing their diplomatic relations after recent mediation efforts by the United States.

The issue was discussed with optimism two weeks ago at the UN General Assembly in New York. Prime Minister Netanyahu said Israel and Saudi Arabia were “on the cusp of an even more dramatic breakthrough, an historic peace between Israel and Saudi Arabia.”

Karhi will deliver a speech and meet with the US ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Michael Ratney, his office said.

The Israeli minister is also expected to hold talks with other prominent figures from around the world, including the Turkish delegation attending the postal conference.

“We will meet with representatives from around the world and bring the peace between the State of Israel and Saudi Arabia closer,” Karhi said in a video statement after landing in Riyadh.

Knesset Economy Committee chairman David Bitan is accompanying Karhi on his Saudi visit.

“Everything starts with small steps, so this is the beginning, and we will see in the future how things develop for the benefit of the state of Israel and peace in the Middle East,” Bitan said.

The peace agreement between the two countries appears to be drawing closer after months of negotiations.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohamed Bin Salman acknowledged in an interview with Fox News two weeks ago that the two sides were closer than ever to normalizing the ties without providing more details about the US-led negotiations.

Netanyahu devoted a significant part of his speech at the UN General Assembly to promoting the potential agreement with Riyadh.

Netanyahu said a possible agreement “will transform the Middle East and encourage other Arab states to normalize their relations with Israel.”

He said hinted at “improved prospects for peace with the Palestinians.”

However, the Palestinian issue remains one of the primary obstacles to the agreement, including the demand for the creation of a Palestinian state. EFE