06:42 GMT +320 October 2019
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    Palestinian worshipers pray during the last Friday of the holy month of Ramadan at the Al Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem's old city

    Israel’s Foreign Minister Says Rapprochement with the Arab World Is 'Top Priority'

    © AP Photo / Mahmoud Illean
    Middle East
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    Israeli officials, including Israel’s Foreign and Intelligence Minister Israel Katz, continue to stress the need for improvement in relationships between Jerusalem and the Arab states, while dozens of Palestinians were injured in recent clashes with the Israeli military on 2 August.

    “My goal, with the full backing of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, is to work toward an overt normalization,” Israel’s Foreign Minister Katz said in front of the Knesset panel of Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Tuesday, 6 August, according to the Times of Israel. "To extend it and turn it public, and to get to the signing of diplomatic agreements with the Gulf states. This is the challenge, this is the goal.”

    Katz insisted that Israel’s rapprochement with the Arab states comes as his “top priority” which he perceives as “realistic”. The foreign minister also underlined that Israel expects to conclude formal peace treaties with moderate Sunni Gulf countries in the next few years.

    Although there are still strong disagreements between the State of Israel and many Arab states over the Palestinian issue, cooperation is still possible between Jerusalem and its Middle Eastern “frenemies”, argued Katz, who used the example of growing trade with Turkey to illustrate the possibility of collaboration despite a strained relationships with Turkey’s President Erdogan.

    The remarks were delivered during the opening part of Katz’s appearance in front of the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that also included Foreign Ministry director-general Yuval Rotem – the rest of the session was closed to the press.

    Israel Katz earlier visited the United Arab Emirates in July during the United Nations conference on climate, where he met with a senior government official whose name he did not disclose.

    In the meantime, clashes between Palestinians and the  Israeli military erupted near the Gaza Strip border on Friday, 2 August, with more than 30 Palestinians injured.

    Turkey, Arab States, Palestine, Israel, Israel Katz
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