Reuters quoted a senior US official as saying that Saudi Arabia agreed Monday to allow Israeli commercial planes to cross its airspace en route to the UAE. On the other hand, Israeli media said that Jared Kushner, an advisor to US President Donald Trump, pressured Riyadh to allow the passage of Israeli planes, after a previous Saudi refusal for “technical reasons.”
Kushner and the United States’ Middle East envoys Avi Berkowitz and Brian Hook brought up the issue of Israeli aircraft crossing shortly after their arrival in Riyadh for talks with the Saudi side. “We were able to settle the matter,” the US official told Reuters.
For its part, Israeli media indicated that the Saudi authorities, after informing Kushner that technical reasons prevented the issuance of permission to allow the aircraft to cross; She returned and assured him that her permission for Israel to cross into the Emirates had already been issued.
The Israeli media reported that the Saudi authorities’ decision includes only the UAE and Bahrain, and does not include crossing to other countries in East Asia.
According to Israeli Army Radio, the “Israir” company has obtained Saudi approval to operate its first commercial flight from Tel Aviv to Dubai, which is scheduled for Tuesday.
The official Israeli “Kan” channel said that the Saudi approval came after Kushner’s intervention, noting that the trip from Tel Aviv to Dubai would take two and a half hours. As the Israeli aircraft crosses Saudi airspace, the flight time between Tel Aviv and Abu Dhabi is reduced to less than 3 hours, compared to 7 hours previously.
There was no official comment from the Saudi authorities on the talks that took place with Kushner regarding permitting the crossing of Israeli aircraft.
It should be noted that Saudi Arabia had previously allowed Israeli aircraft to pass through its airspace on September 23, when the first Israeli flight to Bahrain was launched, carrying Israeli officials.
As of Wednesday, Israir is scheduled to launch two flights a day on this route, to be joined on Thursday by the “Arkia” company, while “El Al”, the largest Israeli airline, will join them, on the ninth of December, with 14 flights per week. According to the Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper.
In mid-September, Israel signed two normalization agreements with each of the Emirates and Bahrain in Washington, under the auspices of the US President.