‘We can make history together’ says Israeli minister as he meets Saudi counterpart in UAE

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Saudi Minister of Commerce and Investment Majid al-Qasabi pictured during the 13th WTO Ministerial Conference in Abu Dhabi, 26 February (AFP)

The officials were pictured chatting amicably on the sidelines of a World Trade Organisation session in Abu Dhabi despite official Saudi criticism of the war on Gaza

Israel’s Economy and Industry Minister Nir Barkat met with his Saudi counterpart Majid bin Abdullah al-Qasabi on the sidelines of a World Trade Organisation (WTO) session in Abu Dhabi on Monday in the latest sign of rapprochement between the two countries.

The two ministers appeared in an online video shaking hands and exchanging business cards, according to Israeli media.

Saudi Arabia and Israel had been edging towards normalisation prior to the start of the conflict in Gaza.

“The State of Israel is interested in peace with peace-seeking countries, and we can make history together,” Barkat told Qasabi, according to a statement from the Israeli economy ministry.

Saudi Arabia and Israel were close to reaching a normalisation agreement before the 7 October attack on Israel and the subsequent Israeli offensive in Gaza.

In 2020 and 2021, Israel reached US-brokered normalisation agreements with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco.

According to Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the UK, Prince Khalid bin Bandar, the two sides were about to sign a pact prior to 7 October.

He told the BBC last month that Riyadh is interested in normalisation after the war, but that a deal must entail the creation of a Palestinian state.

Saudi Arabia defies claims it will normalise with Israel before Gaza ceasefire

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The Saudi foreign ministry last month said no normalisation will take place without a ceasefire and progress toward Palestinian statehood.

“The kingdom has communicated its firm position to the US administration that there will be no diplomatic relations with Israel unless an independent Palestinian state is recognised on the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital, and that the Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip stops and all Israeli occupation forces withdraw from the Gaza Strip,” the ministry said in a statement on 7 February.

The statement followed  remarks about positive progress on Saudi-Israeli normalisation made by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and US National Security Council spokesman John Kirby.

Blinken met with Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, in Riyadh last month as part of a Middle East tour.

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Disclaimer: 'We can make history together' says Israeli minister as he meets Saudi counterpart in UAE - Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect Latheefarook.com point-of-view

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