Saudi Arabia opens its airspace for Israeli flights

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Biden made a statement hours before he was due for his flight from Israel to Saudi Arabia.

In an effort to establish a path for normalization between the two countries, the Biden administration has been trying for months to formalize economic and security deals between Saudi Arabian and Israel.

Riyadh is suspected to have had a secret relationship with Israel, but has not yet publicly disclosed those diplomatic ties. In 2020, then-Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly flew to Saudi Arabia for A covert meeting The kingdom’s de facto leader is Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, a claim denied by Riyadh’s top diplomat.

The “crown jewel”, or possible normalization, between Israel and Saudi Arabia, has been called the “crown jewel”, of the agreements between the Jewish state (and the Arab world). In 2020, the United Arab Emirates and Sudan established normal relations with Israel as part of a wave that followed the departure of President Donald Trump.

This is the kingdom’s first decision to allow unlimited airspace for Israeli airlines to fly into and out of the country. Saudi Arabia has not allowed Israeli airlines to use its airspace from Tel Aviv to Abu Dhabi or Bahrain, as it did in the past.

This move completely overturns the decades-old ban on Israeli flights in Saudi airspace. Israeli airlines used to fly to Asian countries like India and China, but had to detour around Saudi Arabia to avoid wasting hours.

Saudi Arabia’s General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA), on Thursday, stated in a statement it had decided that its airspace would be open to all air carriers “that comply with the Authority’s requirements for overflying.” The country also stated that it is eager to fulfill its obligations under the Chicago Convention of 1945, which prohibits discrimination between civil and military aircrafts involved in international air navigation.

Biden, following the decision of Saudi Arabia, promised to do everything he could, “through direct diplomatic diplomacy and leader to leader engagement, in order to continue this pioneering process.”

Yair Lapid, the Israeli Prime Minister, welcomed the Saudi announcement. He described it as the culmination of a long road of intense and secretive diplomacy with Saudi Arabian and American officials. He stated that the decision was only the first step and promised more to improve relations.

Lapid thanked Biden as well and wished him success at his summit in Jeddah.

The US President will meet Friday night with King Salman, Crown Prince and other high-ranking officials.

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