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Israel hosts Arab journalists, bloggers

Saudi blogger Mohammed Saud with Yair Netanyahu, son of Israel’s prime minister [Twitter]
Saudi blogger Mohammed Saud (R) and Yair Netanyahu, son of Israel’s prime minister, 6 August 2019 [Twitter]

Arab journalists and bloggers from the Gulf and Iraq took part in a series of meetings and events in Israel, following an invitation from the Foreign Ministry.

Members of the delegation of journalists were not identified and the duration of their stay in Israel was also not disclosed.

On Twitter the ministry said some of the journalists were from countries which do not have formal diplomatic relations with the occupation state, adding that the visit would allow them to become acquainted with "Israel's diverse society and its different perspectives".

A picture, which is thought to be of members of the media delegation, was published along with the tweet but did not show any faces or identifiable marks.

This is not the first time Arab journalists have toured Israel following an invitation from the Foreign Ministry, in summer, media members from Morocco, Lebanon, Iraq, Yemen and Syria joined such a trip.

They visited Jerusalem's Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial, parliament and Al-Aqsa Mosque compound.

The delegation was condemned by the Palestinian Authority which called on Arab media bodies to place them and the media outlets they work for on the Arab boycott "blacklist".

READ: 'Israel to pay the price for its disregard for international law'

The visit marks the latest development in growing ties between Israel and the Arab world.

In March, Saudi Arabia – along with its regional allies the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Egypt – rejected a statement by the Union of Arab Parliaments calling for an end to normalisation with Israel.

Though representatives from Kuwait and Jordan argued that a clause rejecting normalisation should be included in the final statement of the union's 29th meeting, speaker of the Saudi Shura Council, Abdullah Al-Sheikh, objected, saying: "Calls for stopping normalisation with Israel is the authority of politicians not the parliamentarians."

The kingdom has, however, tried to maintain the appearance of supporting the Palestinians, claiming last month that Palestine is its "central cause". This came just weeks after it emerged that Saudi Arabia had offered Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas $10 billion to accept the "deal of the century", the long-awaited US peace plan which reportedly fails to make provisions for a future Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital.

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