Creating new perspectives since 2009

UNESCO confirms Israel delegation attendance at Riyadh conference

September 12, 2023 at 2:03 pm

The delegation from Israel attends the UNESCO Extended 45th session of the World Heritage Committee in Riyadh on September 11, 2023 [RANIA SANJAR/AFP via Getty Images]

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, Anadolu Agency reports.

“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 authorised to speak to the media.

READ: Saudi Arabia welcomes official Israeli delegation to UNESCO conference

Israeli army radio reported last week that the Saudi government had denied entry visas to 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 normalisation 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 25 September.