Saudi Arabia announced Wednesday its approval of a request by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to allow Emirati flights to and from Israel to cross its airspace.
According to a statement by the General Authority for Civil Aviation (GACA), Riyadh approved a request from its Emirati counterpart to allow all flights from and to the Gulf state to fly over Saudi Arabia.
The Saudi move was quickly welcomed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, saying: “I have been working for years on opening the sky of Israel towards the east.”
He pointed out that this will shorten the time of flights and reduce the cost for Israelis.
Netanyahu thanked US Presidential Adviser Jared Kushner and Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed for their contributions.
On Monday, the first Israeli commercial flight landed in the UAE as a first manifestation of the agreement to normalize ties between the two countries.
Monday’s Israeli plane crossed Saudi airspace, thereby the flying hours between Tel Aviv and Abu Dhabi recessed to less than three and a half hours compared to seven hours in the past.
While the Saudi decision did not include a ban on any country, it is expected that Israel will operate its flights to the UAE through Saudi airspace, as happened during the Monday’s flight.
On Aug. 13, the UAE and Israel announced a US-brokered agreement to normalize their relations, including opening embassies in each other’s territory.
The Palestinian Authority and resistance factions have denounced the UAE-Israel deal, saying it does not serve the Palestinian cause and ignores the rights of Palestinians.
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