Israeli airlines will be allowed to cross through Saudi Arabia on a regular basis, shattering a 72-year taboo as Gulf Arab nations and the Jewish state draw steadily closer together.
On Wednesday, Saudi Arabia approved a United Arab Emirates request to use the kingdom’s airspace “for all flights coming to the United Arab Emirates and leaving to all countries,” a consequential, if oblique outreach to Israel. The short statement by the state-run Saudi Press Agency, citing an unidentified official at the aviation authority, was quickly followed by a tweet from the foreign minister.
Two days earlier, Saudi Arabia allowed Israel’s flagship carrier, El Al Israel Airlines, to fly over its territory for the first time to hold a first round of peace talks with the UAE in Abu Dhabi.
The opening of Saudi skies, closed because the countries have never had diplomatic relations, reflects the growing willingness by Gulf Arab states to publicly recognise a rapprochement with Israel that’s rooted in a common animosity toward Iran.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hailed the decision. “These are the benefits of a peace that is genuine,” he said.
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