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Israeli Leaders Continue with Saudi Arabia Visits as Talk of Ties Heats Up

Minister Shlomo Karhi and Knesset Economy Committee chairman David Bitan are visiting Saudi Arabia.

Shlomo Karhi

Shlomo Karhi and others holding Sukkot prayers in Saudi Arabia (Twitter)

Israel’s Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi and Knesset Economy Committee chairman David Bitan (both are from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party) are visiting Saudi Arabia this week, in spite of the fact that Israel does not have diplomatic ties with the country. This is year another crack in the wall that separates the two nations.

The two lead a delegation of 14 that includes representatives of the Communications Ministry, Israel’s postal service and the Foreign Ministry.

After landing in Saudi Arabia Monday night, Minister Karhi released a video in which he said, “We’re here during the Sukkot holiday, at an international conference. We’ll meet with representatives from around the world, and will bring the peace between the State of Israel and Saudi Arabia closer,”

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David Bitan added, “Everything starts with small steps, so this is the beginning, and we’ll see in the future how things develop for the benefit of the State of Israel and peace in the Middle East.”

Shlomo Karhi released pictures of himself and other Jews praying on the Sukkot holiday in Saudi Arabia Tuesday morning. In the pictures people can be seen holding the four species of plant life (Arba Minim) including the Etrog (citron), a small fruit that looks like a lemon, on which the Jews the world over make a blessing on the holiday. Sukkot traditionally marked the end of the summer harvest season in the Holy Land.

With the pics came a statement by Karhi happily exclaiming there was no need to hide their activities saying, “Windows were open in Daniel’s house towards Jerusalem for prayer. Also here in Riyadh we were privileged to pray with open windows towards Jerusalem.”

This trip came just a few days after Israel’s Tourism Minister Haim Katz made history as the first Israeli cabinet minister to visit Saudi Arabia.

As for the possibility of the establishment of diplomatic ties between the two nations, just a few days ago the US National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters, “All sides have hammered out, I think, a basic framework for what, you know, what we might be able to drive at. But, as in any complex arrangement, as this will inevitably be, everybody is going to have to do something. And everybody is going to have to compromise on some things,”

And just a few weeks ago in an interview Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said about reaching an agreement with Israel, “every day, we get closer” and that they have had “good negotiations” so far.

Born in Port Lyautey Morocco, David Bitan immigrated to Israel in 1965. In 2015, Bitan was elected to the 20th Knesset, serving as chairman of the House Committee. In May 2016, he was appointed chairman of the coalition and retired from his post as chairman of the House Committee.

Born in Israel and an accountant by profession, Shlomo Karhi has a Ph. D. in Industrial Engineering.



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