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Normalization Efforts between Israel and Saudi Arabia May Include Visit by Foreign Minister Cohen

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Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen said he may plan to visit Saudi Arabia in the future and that at least one other Arab country will establish diplomatic relations with Israel later in 2023.

“This (visit to Saudi Arabia) is on the table, and no date has been set yet,” he said in an interview with Israeli Army Radio during a state visit to Azerbaijan on Wednesday.

In 2020, Israel reached agreements to normalize relations with Saudi Arabia’s neighbors in the Gulf, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, and later included Morocco in the so-called Abraham Accords.

And she did not hide her desire for closer relations with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which refrained from officially recognizing Israel in the absence of a decision regarding the goals of establishing a Palestinian state. Earlier in the week, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said normalization with Riyadh would be a “giant step” toward ending the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Cohen said at least one more country will join the Abraham Accords this year, without elaborating.

He added that the issue of normalizing relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia appeared during the meeting of US Republican Senator Lindsey Graham with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman this week.

“Saudi Arabia’s enemy is certainly not Israel. Its enemy is Iran,” Cohen said on Wednesday.

Saudi Arabia and Iran ended years of hostility after a China-brokered deal in March. In response to a question about restoring relations between Riyadh and Tehran, Cohen said that such a development could bode well for Israel.

“It is precisely this thing that could lead to a balance that (Saudi Arabia) approaches Israel,” he said.

The Palestinian News Agency (Wafa) reported that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman met earlier today, Wednesday, with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Jeddah, where the two sides discussed the situation in the occupied Palestinian territories.

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