KSA: Saudi Delegation Visit to Israel, Contrary to Government Stand

The visit of a former Saudi military general together with a delegation of academics and businessmen to Israel has been described as an isolated event by an unnamed governmental official.

The visit “does not reflect the views of the Saudi government,” the official was quoted by al-Hayat newspaper as saying, while reports emanating from Israel claim that Riyadh’s permission was likely necessary for such a visit to take place.

Saudi Arabia, like the majority of other Arab states, does not have official relations with Israel and the unnamed official referred to the Jewish State as “the occupied territories” of Palestine.

During their visit, the delegation met with director general of the foreign ministry Dore Gold, the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories Maj.-Gen. Yoav Mordechai, and several Knesset members from the opposition at the King David hotel in Jerusalem. The delegation also toured the West Bank city of Ramallah and met with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas as well as other Palestinian officials.

Such visits are considered by Tel Aviv as a milestone in its effort to have official diplomatic ties with Arab States.

Saudi Arabia bans its citizens from visiting Israel and does not grant entry visas to Israelis.

The presence of businessmen in the delegation hints that they could be eyeing investment opportunities and partnership as the Capital Market Authority, Saudi market regulator, prepares to ease restrictions for foreign investors, even though it is unlikely that Israeli companies will be authorized to operate in the kingdom. Israel has already positioned itself as a renowned technological center especially for innovative startups.

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