Arab-Israeli member of the Knesset Issawi Frej told Israeli state media on Sunday that preparations are ongoing for a visit of opposition members in the Israeli parliament to Saudi Arabia—a first of its kind.
Frej, 52, member of the left-leaning Meretz party told the state broadcasting service Voice of Israel that a Saudi delegation that visited Israel last week and met with opposition MPs expressed willingness to enhance relations with Israel.
The Saudi delegation was headed by retired general Anwar Eshki and included academics and businessmen but, according to Israeli media, did not include officials. However, the delegation met with Israeli officials including director general of the Israeli foreign ministry Dore Gold.
The meeting of the Saudi delegation with opposition members in the Knesset was attended by member of the central committee in the Palestinian Fattah movement Jibril Rajoub.
Both the Saudi visit and the planned Israeli one serve as an example of the rapidly developing bilateral relations between the two countries that have been officially unrecognised since the two close-in-age countries were established. Saudi authorities deny visas for citizens of Israel or foreigners who have visas for Israel in their passports.
The first announced cooperation between the two countries came this year in April as the Israeli defence minister Moshe Ya’alon told Israeli media that, as part of the Egyptian-Saudi maritime demarcation deal which saw the transfer of sovereignty of two Red Sea islands to the Gulf kingdom, a quartet agreement that included the US on the transfer needed to be reached beforehand.
Ya’alon also said that Saudi Arabia agreed to ensure free shipping for all parties through the straits. The deal will see Saudi Arabia replace Egypt in the security annex of the Camp David accords in regards to the islands.
According to Israeli media, the maritime demarcation deal was part of the subjects of mutual interest that were in discussion when Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry visited Israel earlier this month.
The deal was publicly criticised in Egypt and was recently annulled by a court ruling. However, an appeal by the government is being reviewed by the High Administrative Court.