JERUSALEM:After the United Arab Emirates, Israel is warming up to Saudi Arabia and Indonesia
Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said they are 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.
Saudi Arabia, home to Islam’s holiest two 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 captured by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war.
Lapid added that “smaller countries” he did not identify could normalize relations with Israel in the coming two years.
Israel’s President Isaac Herzog said he would visit the United Arab Emirates, the first country to normalize ties with Israel as part of the Abraham Accords, on Jan 30-31, and meet with its leaders.
Despite the absence of official ties, Saudi Arabia agreed in 2020 to allow Israel-UAE flights to cross its territory.
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s El Al Israel Airlines plane flew through Saudi airspace when he visited Abu Dhabi last month.
A covert visit to Saudi Arabia in November 2020 by then-prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu was confirmed by Israeli officials but publicly denied by Riyadh. Both Israel and Saudi Arabia share concerns over their common enemy, Iran.
Both Saudi Arabia and Indonesia condemned Israel’s airstrikes in Gaza during 11 days of hostilities with Palestinians in May 2021. More than 250 Palestinians were killed in Gaza. Rockets fired by Hamas and other groups killed 13 people in Israel.