Tourism Minister Haim Katz spoke to i24NEWS on Wednesday, a day after he landed in Riyadh in order to take part in the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) conference. Katz became the first Israeli minister to head an official delegation to Saudi Arabia.
In the interview, Katz shared insights into the burgeoning relationship between Israel and Saudi Arabia, describing the atmosphere in Saudi Arabia as "very warm" and reminiscent of "walking around Tel Aviv."
"My feeling is that an affair has begun, but it will take time until it crystallizes into a relationship," he said, adding, "If there is a peace agreement with Saudi Arabia, it will be a warm peace."
Katz’s visit to Saudi Arabia coincides with International Tourism Day, underscoring the paramount importance of the tourism industry on a global scale.
Katz's historic visit has paved the way for other Israeli ministers to publicly announce their plans to visit Saudi Arabia, including Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi and Likud MK David Bitan.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said during his speech to the UN General Assembly last week that "I believe that we are at the cusp of a historic peace between Israel and Saudi Arabia. Such a peace will go a long way to ending the Arab Israeli conflict."
Two days before Netanyahu’s speech, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman commented on the negotiations with Israel in an interview with Fox News.
"Every day we get closer, it seems it's for the first time real one serious. We get to see how it goes," he said, adding his country could work with Israel, no matter who is in charge and calling a potential deal "the biggest historical deal since the end of the Cold War."