The Israeli delegation in ancient Riyadh
The Israeli delegation in ancient RiyadhMinistery of Communications

Arutz Sheva-Israel National News spoke with Israeli Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi, who is currently visiting Saudi Arabia, about how he was welcomed in the kingdom, the meetings he held there, and the thing that surprised him at the Saudi museum that he visited.

"Our hosts here are very cordial; they drive us around in their cars, and it looks like it's all about to happen," says Karhi, seemingly referring to the normalization deal that is being formulated between Israel and the Saudis. Does it look like the deal was already signed? Karhi answers that no yet and mentions that regular Israeli citizens still can not enter Saudi Arabia. "It will take more time, and there is still a process that we're in the middle of, and I trust the Prime Minister."

Regarding the warm atmosphere experienced by the Israeli delegacy in Riydh, Karhi recalls: "They are very cordial. We walked around the Souq in Riyadh, we bought souvenirs, and we entered stores, and people smiled and said hello. We walked around ancient Riyadh, and when the time for afternoon prayers came, we asked to stop and pray, they stopped the tour, and we went to the side and prayed with a minyan (quorum)."

קרעי קורא בספר העתיקדוברות

Karhi says that the main language that was spoken during the visit was English, but he had a few discissions when he spoke in the Tunisian Arabic that he learned at home, and the Saudis corrected him on the difference between the two dialects.

"We met with ministers from around the world, we met the US Ambassador in Riyadh. We have a reception that the Saudi Communications Minister is hosting for all the visiting ministers. This evening, I will address the conference, and it looks good. We are in a positive direction. We need to appreciate the vision and leadership of Prime Minister Netanyahu, who led us to this day," says Karhi.

Karhi adds and recounts his visit to a book exhibit in Riyadh in which about 100 nations are participating. At the exhibit, a Torah scroll dating back to the 16th century was displayed. By way of wonderment, the scroll was open to the passage that discusses the Sukkot holiday, "We read it from the scroll, and it was very moving," the minister said and clarified that none of the exhibit staff intended to open the scroll to that passage.

We asked if, beyond the discussions regarding the conference, which deals with communications, there were also diplomatic discussions. Karhi predicts that during the meeting with the Saudi Communications Minister, the diplomatic issues may be brought up as a background discussion in the hallway, but he prefers to leave the agreement to Prime Minister Netanyahu, "I think he's the best guy to deal with this. Our very presence here shows that this thing is becoming a reality, and you don't need much more than our pictures from here praying and touring Riyad. This is a great and tremendous thing, and only because Netanyahu's government is the one leading these processes."

We also asked Minister Karhi if, during the various meetings or in discussions with Saudis, the Palestinian issue was ever brought up, and if it seems that the issue occupies them, Karhi answered no. "There were no discussions about this issue, I didn't hear a thing about it. The Prime Minister proved himself until now and showed that you can have peace in exchange for peace, peace through the realization of Israel's might, and that's how he'll continue to work. He protected Israel's national and security interests, and that's what he'll continue to do."