In another monumental coup for Israel’s warming ties with Arab Gulf states, Saudi Arabia on Wednesday announced it will allow all Israeli flights to the United Arab Emirates to cross through Saudi airspace.
The announcement comes in the wake of the first ever commercial flight from Tel Aviv to Abu Dhabi on Monday which crossed over Saudi airspace, as Breitbart Jerusalem reported.
The decision was the result of a joint request by the UAE and the U.S., coordinated by White House Special Adviser Jared Kushner.
The first ever direct commercial flight from Israel to the United Arab Emirates took off Monday carrying a senior Israeli and American delegation for talks to cement the recently signed U.S.-brokered agreement to establish ties between the two countries. https://t.co/OaoVECa06B
— Breitbart News (@BreitbartNews) September 1, 2020
The new policy, which was announced by the state-run Saudi Press Agency, did not mention Israel by name but instead said that starting immediately, flights “from all countries” would be permitted to use its airspace to the UAE. Until now, all countries except for Israel were granted that right.
The use of Saudi airspace cuts flight time by about four hours.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hailed the announcement as a “huge breakthrough” that will boost Israeli air travel and reduce airfare.
“These are the benefits of a peace that is genuine,” Netanyahu said.
“I want to thank Jared Kushner and Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed for today’s important contribution,” he said.
“Now there is another tremendous breakthrough: Israeli planes and those from all countries will be able to fly directly from Israel to Abu Dhabi and Dubai, and back. Flights will be cheaper and shorter, and it will lead to robust tourism and develop our economy.”
The move “will open up the East,” Netanyahu continued.
“When you fly to Thailand or anywhere else in Asia, it will save time and money. This is amazing news for you, the citizens of Israel. These are the benefits of a peace that is genuine,” he said.
For years, I have been working to open the skies between Israel and the East. It was spectacular news two-and-a-half years ago when Air India received approval to fly directly to Israel.
Now there is another tremendous breakthrough. pic.twitter.com/V7zbrxGTQ5
— PM of Israel (@IsraeliPM) September 2, 2020
He added that there is “a great deal more good news to come.”
Both Netanyahu and Kushner have repeatedly said more peace deals with Arab states are in the offing. Oman and Bahrain are touted as the next Arab nations likely to normalize ties with Israel.
However, Saudi Arabia has expressed its position it will not seek normalization with Israel before a peace deal with the Palestinians was struck.