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The New Arab Staff

Israel's Netanyahu promises direct flights to Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia granted Israel permission to fly through its airspace last year [Getty]

Date of publication: 21 March, 2021

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The Israeli premier made the pledge as part of his campaign to win reelection.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has promised to bring about direct flights from Israel to Saudi Arabia if reelected next week.

"I'm going to bring you direct flights from Tel Aviv to Mecca," Netanyahu said in an interview with Channel 13.

Saudi Arabia is among several Arab- and Muslim-majority nations thought to be mulling the normalisation of ties with Israel after the UAE, Bahrain, Morocco and Sudan made the move last year.

Riyadh granted Israel permission to fly over its airspace for the first time last year, but further steps towards normalisation have not yet publicly materialised.

Saudi officials reportedly stopped communicating with their Israeli counterparts after a secret meeting between Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Netanyahu was made public.

In the televised interview on Saturday, Netanyahu claimed four more normalisation agreements would be forthcoming.

Oman, Mauritania and Indonesia have also been rumoured to be considering establishing ties with Israel.

Jared Kushner, who helped broker last year's normalisation agreements under the Trump administration, has claimed that Saudi Arabia will "inevitabily" make the move.

Normalisation with Israel faces fierce opposition in most Arabic-speaking and Muslim-majority nations, which have historically refrained from diplomatic and economic ties with Israel out of solidarity with the Palestinians.

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