Sunday, September 24, 2023

Israeli delegation attends UNESCO meeting in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

An Israeli delegation on Monday attended a gathering by the United Nations' cultural agency in Riyadh, in another sign that Saudi Arabia is opening up to Tel Aviv with Washington pressing for a full normalisation of relations.

Three Israeli officials were seen sitting at Israel’s chairs of the 45th session of UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee, a Reuters witness said.

Another Israeli official stated the delegation included the Foreign Ministry’s deputy director-general for international organisations and the ambassador to international organisations in Paris.

A delegate from Israel’s Education Ministry and the chair of Israel’s Antiquities Authority also took part in the gathering, the official added.

Public appearances of Israeli officials are rare in Saudi Arabia, but both sides have had covert contacts.

Washington has been pressing its traditional ally Riyadh to sign a normalisation deal with Israel, which would be its biggest diplomatic win in the region and following similar agreements with United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Morocco, known as the Abraham Accords.

However, Riyadh has so far resisted US pressure and linked the move to the creation of a Palestinian state as part of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, along with other demands.

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