Israeli Minister of Tourism Haim Katz became the first minister of an Israeli government to visit Saudi Arabia in a formal capacity this week when he led a delegations to United Nations conference on tourism.
The visit came amid talk by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Sulman about a potential deal involving formal recognition, peace, and normalized relations between the two countries.
Al-Monitor.com’s Rina Bassist reported:
A statement issued by the Tourism Ministry said that during the two-day conference marking International Tourism Day, Katz will participate in several events and meetings with his international counterparts, particularly those from the Middle East.
Katz’s visit to Riyadh comes days after the arrival of a delegation from Israel’s Foreign Ministry for the UNESCO World Heritage Committee’s 45th session. It was the first time that Israeli diplomats have publicly traveled to Saudi Arabia.
Katz’s visit came as a Saudi envoy made a rare trip to the West Bank on Tuesday and reiterated that the Palestinian cause will be a “cornerstone” of any normalization deal the oil-rich kingdom may strike with Israel.
Israel and the U.S. left UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization), which became an organization dominated by anti-Israel bias and antisemitism, as it denied Jewish cultural ties to Jerusalem.
But the U.S. rejoined it under President Joe Biden, reversing an earlier Donald Trump policy, and Israel remained a member of its World Heritage Convention, which designates World Heritage Sites.
During the Riyadh meeting, the UNESCO gathering approved a World Heritage Site near Jericho, a city in Judea (the southern West Bank) in what it called “Palestine,” over Israeli objections, Al-Monitor noted. However, the trip was otherwise without incident.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the new biography, Rhoda: ‘Comrade Kadalie, You Are Out of Order’. He is also the author of the recent e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.