Israel is working with the United States and Gulf nations like the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain in a process to ultimately normalise ties with Saudi Arabia, foreign minister Yair Lapid said on Monday.
“We believe that it is possible to have a normalisation process with Saudi Arabia. It’s in our interest”, Lapid told Army Radio.
“We’ve already said that this is the next step after the Abraham Accords, to talk about a long and careful process”, he added, referring to the 2020 normalisation deals between Israel and four Arab nations.
Jerusalem and Riyadh do not have formal diplomatic relations, but covert ties have warmed in recent years.
Saudi crown prince Mohammad bin Salman reportedly sees Israel as a strategic partner in the fight against Iranian influence across the region.
Lapid cautioned that the normalisation process with the Saudis would be a lengthy one made up of small progressive steps.
“This wont happen the same way it did last time. We wont wake up one morning suddenly and it will be a surprise.”
“It could be three foreign ministers after me, someone will be standing on the podium and will celebrate this”, he predicted.
Lapid’s comments follow a flurry of reported Israeli visits to Saudi Arabia, including a senior security official and dozens of tech entrepreneurs in recent weeks.