Saudi Arabia has decided to approve the United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) request to allow planes from all countries to pass through its territory on the way to the UAE and from the UAE, paving the way for direct and shorter Israeli flights to the Emirates.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday welcomed the announcement, saying that “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: 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,” he declared.
This development comes just a day after Israeli and American teams returned from a historic 24-hour visit in the UAE, during which the countries discussed the development and implementation of the Abraham Accords and during which the two sides signed their first Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on cooperation in the fields of banking and finance.
The MOU was signed just days after UAE President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed signed an order canceling the law on boycotting products from Israel and economic contacts with Israelis, a phase ahead of the full normalization of ties with Israel.
In his statement, Netanyahu further noted that the Saudi permit “will open up the East. 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. I want to thank [US Special Advisor] Jared Kushner and [Crown Prince of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi] Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed for today’s important contribution. There will be a great deal more good news to come,” he declared, possibly hinting to the normalization of ties with other Muslim or Arab countries.
The Abraham Accords is the first between a Gulf state and Israel and is expected to lead to similar agreements with other Arab countries, possibly Bahrain, Oman or Saudi Arabia.