JERUSALEM 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday Israel is working on organizing direct flights with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to pass through the Saudi Arabia’s airspace.

“We are currently working on enabling direct flights, over Saudi Arabia, between Tel Aviv and Dubai and Abu Dhabi,” Netanyahu said during a tour at Ben Gurion International Airport.

“It is a short flight of three hours, like to Rome, but it will greatly change Israeli aviation and the economy, with a great number of tourists on both sides and a great number of investments,” he said.

Netanyahu’s tour came in preparation for re-establishing flights between Israel and a number of countries in the world, after a hiatus for months, due to the spread of coronavirus.

Last week, US President Donald Trump announced a deal between Israel an the UAE to normalize their relations.

The UAE is the first Gulf state and third Arab nation to have full diplomatic relations with Israel after Egypt and Jordan.

Despite reports that the deal halted Israel’s controversial plan to annex parts of the West Bank, Netanyahu confirmed his government’s continued commitment to the annexation plan.

Palestinian groups denounced the deal, saying it does nothing to serve the Palestinian cause and ignores the rights of Palestinians.

*Bassel Barakat contributed to this report from Ankara

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