Saudi Arabia to allow flights between Israel and Abu Dhabi over its airspace

Saudi Arabia to allow flights between Israel and Abu Dhabi over its airspace

Significance: Saudis sending an important signal that they are not isolating UAE over peace deal

Expected flight path of El Al flight 971 from Tel Aviv to Abu Dhabi. (Image credit: Hananya Naftali, social media aide to Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu)
Expected flight path of El Al flight 971 from Tel Aviv to Abu Dhabi. (Image credit: Hananya Naftali, social media aide to Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu)

The Saudi PressAgency announced that the government has agreed to allow flights between Israel and the United Arab Emirates.

“An official source at the General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) has stated that the Authority approved the request received from the General Civil Aviation Authority in the United Arab Emirates, which includes the desire to allow flights coming to and departing from the United Arab Emirates to all countries to pass through the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s airspace.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said this was “another tremendous breakthrough” and will open up the East to Israelis traveling abroad, something he has been working on for years.

“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 said.

Israeli reporter Barak Ravid posted on Twitter that the Saudi government “will allow from now on all flight[s] from the UAE to Israel and back to use Saudi airspace.”

Ravid, who covers diplomatic affairs for Walla!News, said the Saudi announcement comes following diplomatic efforts by Jared Kushner, the senior advisor to President Donald Trump.

Ravid reported that while previous U.S. administrations tried to lobby the Saudis to allow Israeli airlines to use their airspace, only Trump succeeded. This was one of the points Kushner discussed in a meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohamed Bin Salman this week.

Significance? This signals that the Saudis are not trying to isolate or punish the UAE for normalizing relations with Israel.

“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. There will be a great deal more good news to come.”

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