Idit Silman
Idit SilmanSpokesperson

Environmental Protection Minister Idit Silman plans to visit Saudi Arabia next week as part of a climate conference, Kan 11 News reported on Friday.

According to the report, Silman has submitted a request for a delegation numbering 13 members, including representatives from the National Security Council, the Environmental Protection Ministry and the Foreign Ministry. Visas have not yet been issued.

Tourism Minister Haim Katz landed in Riyadh last week 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.

He was followed by Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi, who took part in a conference in Saudi Arabia this week.

Last Friday, US National Security Council Spokesman John Kirby told reporters that a “basic framework” was in place for a potential deal between Israel and Saudi Arabia, but also said, “We’re continuing to work at this…until you negotiate everything, you haven’t really negotiated anything final.”

On Tuesday, Deputy State Department spokesperson Vedant Patel poured cold water on the idea that a normalization agreement between Israel and Saudi Arabia is near, saying there is still work to be done.

Meanwhile, sources told Reuters last week that Saudi Arabia is determined to secure a military pact requiring the United States to defend the kingdom in return for opening ties with Israel and will not hold up a deal even if Israel does not offer major concessions to Palestinian Arabs.

While an Israeli-Saudi deal is widely expected to include Israeli concessions towards the Palestinian Authority, and Secretary of State Antony Blinken recently said that the Palestinian Arab issue will be part of a normalization agreement, three sources told Reuters that the Palestinian Arab core demand for statehood would take a back seat.

(Israel National News' North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Simchat Torah and Shmini Atzeret in New York. The time posted automatically on all Israel National News articles, however, is Israeli time.)