Tourism minister tells Israel TV of ‘wonderful’ reception landing in Saudi Arabia

Tourism Minister Haim Katz (L) speaks to Channel 12 from Saudi Arabia on September 26, 2023. (Screencapture)
Tourism Minister Haim Katz (L) speaks to Channel 12 from Saudi Arabia on September 26, 2023. (Screencapture)

Tourism Minister Haim Katz speaks to Channel 12 news from Saudi Arabia where today he became the first Israeli minister to lead an official delegation to the kingdom.

“They received me very nicely, we landed in the afternoon, there were lots of people in the welcome committee, everybody looked the same, it was wonderful,” Katz says.

He declines to respond to a question on whether the Israeli flag will be flying at the UN World Tourism Organization event in Riyadh, implying that the fact he was allowed to lead an official delegation was enough of a concession from the Saudis.

“We came into Saudi Arabia by the front door, but before that, they wanted to bring us in through the back door. I said that if I come to Saudi Arabia, it would be officially representing the State of Israel and that is enough,” he says.

The visit comes as Israel and Saudi Arabia move to normalize ties.

Katz also refuses to be drawn on whether he would support a deal with Riyadh if it involves giving a green light for a Saudi nuclear program or concessions to the Palestinians.

Katz says he trusts Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to make the right decisions.

Channel 12 also sends a correspondent to Jeddah to produce an item on how Saudis feel about possible Israeli-Saudi ties, however, the reporters do not identify themselves as Israeli.

The full broadcast will air tomorrow.

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