Israel's Prime Minister Yair Lapid expressed hope on Sunday that Israel will establish formal diplomatic relations with Saudi Arabia.
The comment by Israel's caretaker prime minister comes days before US President Joe Biden visits Israel and Saudi Arabia as part of a regional trip.
Israel and Saudi Arabia do not have official diplomatic relations, but have shared clandestine security ties over a mutual enmity of regional arch-rival Iran. Saudi Arabia is widely believed to be among a handful of Arab states weighing open ties with Israel.
"Israel extends its hand to all the countries of the region and calls on them to build ties with us, establish relations with us, and change history for our children," said Lapid said during a weekly Cabinet meeting. He said Biden will carry "a message of peace and hope from us" when he embarks for Saudi Arabia.
The United States has been central to Israel's normalisation of relations with Muslim-majority countries in recent years. Under Abraham Accords, signed in 2020 with the involvement of former President Donald Trump's involvement, Israel normalised relations with a number of Arab countries, including Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, and Morocco, according to NPR.
Defense cooperation has tightened since the Pentagon switched coordination with Israel from US European Command to Central Command, or CENTCOM, last year. The move lumped Israel's military with those of former enemy states, including Saudi Arabia and other Arab nations that have yet to recognise Israel.
Biden is set to arrive in Israel on Wednesday for three-day trip that will also include meetings with Palestinian officials in the occupied West Bank. From there, he will fly directly to Saudi Arabia.
In an opinion piece in The Washington Post on Sunday, Biden said he is aiming to bring the two countries closer together.
He wrote, "I will also be the first president to fly from Israel to Jiddah, Saudi Arabia. That travel will also be a small symbol of the budding relations and steps toward normalization between Israel and the Arab world, which my administration is working to deepen and expand."
Formal ties with Saudi Arabia would be a major diplomatic coup for Israel. The kingdom has been publicly reticent about acknowledging cooperation with Israel. Saudi Arabia's King Salman has been a longtime supporter of the Palestinians and their desire to establish an independent state in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem. Israel captured all three areas in 1967, though it withdrew its forces and settlers from Gaza in 2005.
The Saudis have long conditioned the establishment of full diplomatic ties with Israel upon a two-state solution to the decades-long conflict with the Palestinians. Israel and the Palestinians have not held substantive negotiations in more than a decade.
However, recent years have seen signs of a shifting attitude. Saudi Arabia has allowed flights between Israel and Gulf states to cross through its airspace. In 2020, then-Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly flew to Saudi Arabia for a meeting with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and last week several Israeli defense reporters visited Saudi Arabia and published news reports about their welcome.
(With AP inputs)