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Against the background of normalization talks: Israeli economy minister meets with Saudi commerce minister

Israeli Economy Minister Nir Barkat meets with Saudi Commerce Minister Majid bin Abdullah Al-Qasabi at the WTO conference in Abu Dhabi, February 26, 2024. (Photo courtesy Economy Ministry)

Israeli Economy Minister Nir Barkat met with Saudi Commerce Minister Majid bin Abdullah Al-Qasabi in Abu Dhabi on Monday.

The two met at the World Trade Organization’s ministerial conference in the capital of the United Arab Emirates, shook hands, and discussed the desire to deepen economic cooperation between the countries.

In addition, the ministers exchanged phone numbers, and Barkat told the Saudi minister: "The State of Israel is interested in peace with countries that seek peace and we can make history together."

About one month ago, Saudi Arabia published an unusual clarification following the American statement, according to which Riyadh was ready to normalize its relations with Israel in exchange for ending the war and recognition of a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders. The clarification issued on behalf of a member of the Saudi royal family stated that if Riyadh did not demand the establishment of such a Palestinian state, it would be a betrayal in the Arab world.

Saudi Arabia has announced that it will not establish diplomatic relations with Israel without the establishment of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital. The statement from the Saudi Foreign Ministry said that "its firm stance [was expressed] to the American administration, according to which there will be no diplomatic relations with Israel if the Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip is not halted and all occupation forces  are not withdrawn from the Gaza Strip."

Amichai Stein is a political correspondent for KAN 11.

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