Riyadh: In yet another incident indicative of growing proximity between Saudi Arabia and Israel, Israeli Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi Tuesday October 03, 2023 performed Jewish prayers in the Kingdom’s capital Riyadh.
Shlomo Karhi is leading a 14-member Israeli delegation to Saudi Arabia to attend the Universal Postal Union (UPU) 2023 Extraordinary Congress to be held on October 4 and 5, 2023.
During his stay in the Kingdom, Shlomo Karhi, an Orthodox Jew, participated in the service held in his hotel during the Sukkot holiday, and performed Talmudic rituals and Sukkot prayers.
Participants in the service were seen wearing traditional prayer shawls and holding an etrog, palm, myrtle, and willow branches, symbolising the Sukkot holiday. They also read from a small Torah scroll a local Jewish individual provided.
היסטוריה בסעודיה: שר התקשורת של מדינת ישראל מתפלל בחג הסוכות כאן בריאד עם ארבעת המינים לעיני כל העולם, מי היה מאמין, התרגשות אדירה, ברוך בואכה בצל קורותינו @shlomo_karhi pic.twitter.com/x9ezoCu8hX— محمد سعود מוחמד סעוד Mohammed Saud (@mosaud08) October 3, 2023
היסטוריה בסעודיה: שר התקשורת של מדינת ישראל מתפלל בחג הסוכות כאן בריאד עם ארבעת המינים לעיני כל העולם, מי היה מאמין, התרגשות אדירה, ברוך בואכה בצל קורותינו @shlomo_karhi pic.twitter.com/x9ezoCu8hX
The scroll bore inscriptions in English, Hebrew, and Arabic, stating "The Jewish Congregation, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia", along with a dedication in Hebrew to King Salman bin Abdulaziz, Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman, and their ministers and advisers.
At the Universal Postal Union's 4th extraordinary Congress in Riyadh Wednesday, Shlomo Karhi delivered a speech wearing a crocheted skullcap and speaking in English and then in Arabic, with a nod to his Tunisian ancestry.
Shlomo Karhi arrived in Saudi Arabia less than a week after Israel's Tourism Minister Haim Katz visited the Kingdom to participate in UN Tourism Conference.
Earlier on September 12, 2023, an Israeli delegation led by a top official had visited the Kingdom to attend UNESCO World Heritage Conference held in its capital Riyadh.
On several occasions in the past secret visits by Israeli officials, including one even by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Nenatyahu, had appeared in the media. But, like this time, the Saudi government did not confirm or deny these visits.
Notably, Haim Katz’s visit to Saudi Arabia coincided with the arrival of the first Saudi Ambassador to Palestine, Nayef al-Sudairi, in the West Bank on the same day i.e. Tuesday September 26, 2023.
After arriving in West Bank on Tuesday through the Karama crossing from Jordan, Al-Sudairi presented his credentials to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
Israeli Tourism Minister’s visit to Saudi Arabia comes about a week after its Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu while addressing the United Nations General Assembly 78th Session in New York claimed that the two countries are at “the cusp of announcing diplomatic ties”.
Saudi Arabia did not comment on the claims made by Netanyahu.
However, Saudi Crown Prince and Prime Minister Mohammed bin Salman in an interview with Fox News, the American TV channel, broadcasted on September 21, 2023 had said that the two countries are "coming closer” with every passing day.
At the same time, bin Salman also said that the resolution of the Palestinian issue is a key point while finalising diplomatic ties between the two countries.
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