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Saudi Arabia, Israel firms sign joint energy venture to advance Kingdom’s solar energy transition

Firms in Israel and Saudi Arabia have signed a joint venture agreement to advance the Gulf Kingdom’s transition to solar energy, in a rare public deal between the two countries that do not have official diplomatic relations.

According to Bloomberg, SolarEdge Technologies, Inc – a major Israeli solar energy firm – formed a joint venture with Ajlan & Bros Holding, a conglomerate in Saudi Arabia’s private sector. The agreement will be established in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, to “support the deployment of smart renewable energy solutions in Saudi Arabia”, SolarEdge stated, with the aim of helping the Kingdom achieve its target to reduce dependence on oil by 2030.

In a joint statement, the two companies announced that the venture will be managed by a joint team, with Ajlan & Bros Holding being the majority shareholder.

According to SolarEdge CEO, Zvi Lando, his firm “is committed to driving the clean energy transition on a global scale, exemplified by this JV [joint venture] which will provide local enterprises in Saudi Arabia with the support they need to rapidly transition away from fossil fuels to clean solar energy and meet their aggressive renewable energy goals”.

Despite the fact that Saudi Arabia and Israel have been in covert communication over the years, with potential backdoor deals, this agreement is particularly significant as it represents the first known public deal between companies in the two countries that still do not share official diplomatic ties.

It comes amid an aggressive drive by the Israeli government and the United States over the past year to convince Riyadh to accept a normalisation deal with Tel Aviv, but the Gulf Kingdom has continued to hold out against the pressure with attempts to use that leverage to demand an independent state for the Palestinians.

The Israeli and American efforts are reportedly gaining increasing traction, however, with Israel’s Foreign Minister, Eli Cohen, saying on Monday that it is “the closest we have ever been to a peace agreement” with the Saudis, and US President Joe Biden last Friday raising hopes of an agreement when he stated that “there’s a rapprochement maybe underway”.

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