Israeli Minister Yisrael Katz (C) enjoys a warm welcome in Oman in 2018. (Facebook) (Facebook)
Katz Oman

Israel will be hosting journalists from Iraq and Saudi Arabia as well as from other Arab countries. The Palestinians want them blacklisted by Arab media.

By United With Israel Staff

The Foreign Ministry announced on Sunday that Israel will be hosting a group of journalists from Arab countries later this week. These include, for the first time, reporters from Iraq and Saudi Arabia as well as from the United Arab Emirates, Jordan and Egypt.

The six journalists crossed into Israel on Sunday via the Allenby Bridge.

Egypt has had diplomatic relations with the Jewish state since 1974 and with Jordan since 1994.

The Foreign Ministry said it hopes to “expose the journalists, some of whom come from countries that Israel has no relations with, to Israeli positions on political and geographical issues, and give them a direct view of Israeli society in all its forms.”

Foreign Ministry Director General Yuval Rotem tweeted, “No doubt this visit will allow our guests to get to know the Israeli society in all its diversity from up close.”

The delegation will visit the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum, the Knesset, and Jerusalem’s holy sites, according to a Foreign Ministry statement. They will meet with members of the Knesset and officials from the foreign ministry and academics and tour northern Israel, Haifa, Nazareth and Tel Aviv.

Growing Relations Between Israel and Arab Countries

Israel has long sought to improve ties with the Arab world. The warming of relations on the part of the Gulf States is thought to be largely a result of common concerns over the Iranian threat to the region.

Hadashot TV reported in January that 15 Iraqi leaders had secretly visited Israel over the span of a few months. That visit included meeting with Israeli government officials and academics and visiting Yad Vashem.

Last week, in a public move, Foreign Minister Yisrael Katz met with Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa, Bahrain’s top diplomat. Photos of the meeting appeared on social media.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with Sultan Qaboos of Oman during a rare trip to the Gulf nation, which. immediately after the visit, called for recognition of Israel; Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev toured the UAE’s Sheikh Zayed mosque; Israel’s communications Minister Ayoub Kara spoke in Dubai, and the Israeli national anthem was played at a judo competition in Abu Dhabi – all in October 2018.

Palestinians Condemn Visit

And, of course, there was the US-led “Peace for Prosperity” conference in Bahrain this past June, attended by Netanyahu as well as several Arab countries. The Palestinians boycotted the summit.

On Monday, the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate (PJS), a Fatah-dominated publication, condemned the visiting Arab journalists for “blessing the occupation” and called for any Arab journalist that visits Israel and promotes “normalization” to be blacklisted by Arab media, The Jerusalem Post reported.