Israel ‘Hopeful’ for Ties With S. Arabia, Indonesia, but No Deals Imminent

YERUSHALAYIM (Reuters) —
Buildings are seen in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (REUTERS/Ahmed Yosri/File Photo)

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said on Tuesday Israel hopes to build on its 2020 U.S.-brokered accords with four Muslim nations and establish diplomatic relations with Saudi Arabia and Indonesia, but such deals would take time.

Saudi Arabia, home to some of Islam’s holiest sites, and Indonesia, which has the world’s largest Muslim population, have conditioned any eventual normalization with Israel on the addressing of the Palestinians’ quest for statehood on territory liberated by Israel in the Six Day War.

On Army Radio, Lapid said Israel is looking to “expand the Abraham Accords to additional countries” beyond the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco.

“If you’re asking me what the important countries that we’re looking at are, Indonesia is one of them, Saudi Arabia of course, but these things take time,” he said.

Lapid added that “smaller countries” he did not identify could normalize relations with Israel in the coming two years.

Despite the absence of official ties, Saudi Arabia agreed in 2020 to allow Israel-UAE flights to cross its territory. Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s plane flew across Saudi airspace when he visited Abu Dhabi last month.

A covert visit to Saudi Arabia in November 2020 by then-Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was confirmed by Israeli officials but publicly denied by Riyadh. Both Israel and Saudi Arabia share concerns over common foe Iran.

Both Saudi Arabia and Indonesia condemned Israel‘s air strikes in Gaza during 11 days of hostilities with Palestinian terrorists in May 2021. Rockets fired by Hamas and other terror groups killed 13 people in Israel.

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