Visit to UNESCO’s World Heritage Conference in capital Riyadh comes amid speculation over normalization of Saudi-Israeli ties
UNESCO on Tuesday confirmed reports of an Israeli diplomatic delegation attending its conference, an unprecedented piece of news as the gathering is taking place in the Saudi capital Riyadh.
“We confirm that a delegation from the State of Israel, which is a State Party to the UNESCO World Heritage Convention, is present at the 45th session of the World Heritage Committee which is being held in Riyadh,” UNESCO told Anadolu without giving further details.
On Monday, an Israeli official also confirmed the news for Anadolu, adding that this is the first time an Israeli delegation is paying an official visit to Saudi Arabia, which has no official ties with Israel.
The delegation is made up of Israeli Foreign Ministry officials, said the source, who asked not to be named as he is not authorized to speak to the media.
Israeli army radio reported last week that the Saudi government had denied entry visas to both Foreign Minister Eli Cohen and Education Minister Yoav Kisch to attend the same international conference.
In recent months, Israeli officials have spoken about the possible normalization of ties with Saudi Arabia, but Riyadh has repeatedly confirmed that this will not happen before a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is reached.
Riyadh is currently hosting the 16-day UNESCO World Heritage Conference through Sept. 25.