Israel welcomes Saudis opening of airspace to flights

July 17, 2022 by Aryeh Savir - TPS
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Israeli leaders welcomed Saudi Arabia’s announcement that it was opening its airspace for all civilian flights, a move some believed to be a step toward peace between the two countries.

El Al taking off from Ben Gurion Airport Photo by Kobi Richter/TPS

Prime Minister Yair Lapid declared Friday that “after a long road of intense and covert diplomacy with Saudi Arabia and the United States, today we have good news. The Saudi aviation authorities have announced that they will be opening Saudi airspace to Israeli airlines.”

He thanked the Saudi leadership for the opening of Saudi airspace.

Minister of Transport Merav Michaeli welcomed that decision as “an important step by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia that will significantly shorten flight times and lower prices of flights between Israel and the east.”

“Above all, it is another step towards better and stronger relations with the countries of the Middle East, relations which will bring critical benefits to our security and to our economy,” she added.

Saudi Arabia’s decision was announced hours before Bien concluded his visit to Israel and flew to Jeddah.

Biden called the decision “a big deal, not only symbolically but substantively,” and that “this is the first tangible step on the path of what I hope will eventually be a broader normalisation of relations” between Israel and Saudi Arabia.

While Israel viewed this is a step toward regional peace, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan stated during a press conference after the GCC+3 regional summit in Jeddah on Saturday that the decision to open its airspace had “nothing to do with diplomatic ties with Israel” and was “not in any way precursor to any further steps” toward normalisation.

Saudi sources have said that the road to full normalisation between Israel and Saudi Arabia is still very long. Saudi Arabia expects significant progress in the diplomatic process with the Palestinian Authority (PA) before it will take any steps.

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