Israel says it will this week host Iraqi and Saudi journalists, in first
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Israel says it will this week host Iraqi and Saudi journalists, in first

Foreign Ministry announces delegation will visit Yad Vashem, the Knesset, and holy sites, learn about Jerusalem’s stance on geopolitical issues

People gather outside the Foreign Ministry building in Jerusalem, November 15, 2018. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
People gather outside the Foreign Ministry building in Jerusalem, November 15, 2018. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The Foreign Ministry said Sunday that later this week, it will be hosting a group of six journalists from Arab countries including, for the first time, Iraq and Saudi Arabia.

The visit comes as Israel seeks to improve ties with Gulf Arab countries, with which it has no formal diplomatic relations.

Those states have resisted offering Israel formal recognition, absent the establishment of a sovereign Palestinian state, but their relations have warmed of late, largely due to common concerns over Iran.

The journalists will visit Jerusalem’s Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial, the Knesset and holy sites, among others, the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

It said it had “the aim of exposing the journalists –- some of whom come from countries that do not have diplomatic relations with Israel -– to Israeli positions on diplomatic and geopolitical issues.”

Jordan is also participating, the ministry said.

Foreign Ministry Director General Yuval Rotem tweeted, “no doubt this visit will allow our guests to get to know the Israeli society in all its diversity from up close.”

Foreign Minister Israel Katz and his Bahraini counterpart Khalid bin Ahmed Al-Khalifa (R) pose for a photograph at the State Department in Washington on July 17, 2019. (Courtesy)

Jordan is one of only two Arab countries, along with Egypt, that have diplomatic relations with Israel.

In another recent sign of a thaw, a group of Israeli journalists attended the US-led economic workshop on Israeli-Palestinian peace in the Gulf state of Bahrain, in late June.

The Palestinian leadership boycotted the conference, citing a series of moves against them by US President Donald Trump’s administration.

On Thursday, Foreign Minister Israel Katz said that he had met his Bahraini counterpart publicly for the first time during a visit to Washington last week.

Katz also recently visited Abu Dhabi for a UN climate conference, where he met United Nations chief Antonio Guterres and an unnamed “high ranking UAE official.”

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