In the latest sign of improving relations with neighboring Arab countries, the Foreign Ministry said on Sunday it will host six journalists from the region in Israel this week, among them from Iraq and Saudi Arabia.
The purpose of the visit is to show the journalists the “real Israel,” according to Hassan Kaabia, the Foreign Ministry’s Arab-language spokesman. To that end, they will be taken on a tour of Yerushalayim, northern Israel, Tel Aviv and other sites in the country, and will meet with Knesset members, ministry officials and academics.
A statement from the ministry doesn’t name the journalists, who could find themselves in trouble at home for participating. In fact, Kaabia said the visit was organized without the knowledge of their home governments. He said that this was the first time this type of delegation has come directly to Israel from some of the countries involved, with whom Israel does not have diplomatic relations.
The news follows the recent Bahrain conference, where Israel had a low-level delegation, and a public meeting last week in Washington between Foreign Minister Yisrael Katz and Bahraini Foreign Minister Sheikh Khaled al-Ahmad al-Khalifa.