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Israel says Iran recruited Palestinians for hits on Ben Gvir, ex-MK Glick

The Times of Israel is liveblogging Wednesday’s events as they occur.

Riyadh welcomes ‘delegation here for first time’ as Israeli minister attends confab

At the start of the UN World Tourism Organization conference in Riyadh attended by Israeli Tourism Minister Haim Katz and staff from his ministry, Saudi Tourism Minister Ahmed bin Aqil al-Khateeb says, “There is a delegation here in the country for the first time. I hope they were received well. Welcome.”

“Everyone in this room understands that tourism is the bridge between people and between cultures,” Khateeb continues.

Katz is meeting at the confab with his Monegasque, Maltese, Albanian and Greek counterparts, as well the Kyrgyzstani economy minister and Bahrain’s trade minister.

Saudi envoy nixes Al-Aqsa visit after Palestinians balk at ‘normalization’

Nayef al-Sudairi, the newly appointed Saudi ambassador to the Palestinians, has canceled a planned visit to the Al Aqsa compound on Temple Mount during his current stay in the Palestinian territories, Haaretz reports.

The Saudi delegation was expected to visit the holy site on the occasion of the Mawlid, the celebration of the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad on Wednesday.

The visit would have been the first by an official Saudi delegation since Israel captured the Old City and East Jerusalem from Jordan in the 1967 Six Day War.

However, reports of the planned visit have caused critical reactions on social media, with some Palestinians considering it a sign of normalization with Israel and calling to prevent it.

According to Haaretz, the Saudi delegation understands the sensitivity of the question for their Palestinian counterparts, and decided to postpone it.

The ambassador’s visit comes as Israel and Saudi Arabia inch closer to a normalization deal brokered by the US.

The Saudis have reportedly demanded that Israel make a number of concessions to the Palestinians, while giving up on earlier demands spelled out in their 2002 Arab Peace Initiative, which would have traded normalization for the establishment of a Palestinian state.

Shin Bet says Iran-backed cell planned hits on Ben Gvir, ex-MK Glick

The Shin Bet security service says it uncovered an Iranian-backed terror cell planning an assassination attempt on National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir and former Likud lawmaker Yehudah Glick.

According to the statement, three West Bank Palestinians — Murad Kamamaja, a 47-year-old resident of Kafr Dan; Hassan Mujarima, a 34-year-old resident of Jenin; and Ziad Shanti, a 45-year-old resident of Jenin — were arrested along with two Arab Israelis, Hamad Hammadi, a 23-year-old resident of Nazareth, and Yosef Hamad, an 18-year-old resident of Muqeible.

According to the Shin Bet, Kamamaja and Mujarima were directed by an agent living in Jordan who was working on behalf of Iranian security forces. “The pair were asked to help smuggle weapons into Israel and to collect intelligence on security for senior public figures,” including Ben Gvir and Glick, the latter of whom survived an assassination attempt in 2014.

Likud party MK Yehudah Glick in Tel Aviv, September 6, 2018. (Gili Yaari/FLASH90)

It says an attempt on Ben Gvir failed to come together thanks to security arrangements around the minister.

It says the three West Bank residents enlisted the two Israelis for a mission to set cars in Haifa on fire and film it as a sort of test to prepare for “much more serious terror.” It claims that Iran is looking to use Israeli criminals to carry out attacks based on forms of criminal activity, without elaborating.

The five are facing serious security charges in court, the Shin Bet says.

Ben Gvir, a far-right firebrand, thanks the Shin Bet and says he won’t be deterred from pushing for harsher conditions for inmates held on terror convictions and for Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount.