Saudi Arabia Allows Israel to Use Airspace for UAE Flights

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised the announcement as a "tremendous breakthrough."
September 2, 2020
Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

Saudi Arabia announced on Sept. 2 that Israel can use its airspace for flights to and from the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

The Saudi Press Agency said in a statement that the Saudis “approved the request received from the General Civil Aviation Authority in the United Arab Emirates, which includes the desire to allow flights coming to and departing from the United Arab Emirates to all countries to pass through the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s airspace.”

However, Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan tweeted that the announcement does not change the country’s position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which is that relations with Israel won’t be normalized until Israel agrees to a two-state solution with the Palestinians involving Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hailed the Saudis’ announcement as a “tremendous breakthrough” in a video posted to social media, adding that the opening of Saudi airspace will cause flights to “be cheaper and shorter, and it will lead to robust tourism and develop our economy.”

He also said that the announcement would lead to flights from Israel to other parts of Asia to be cheaper and faster as well.

“When you fly to Thailand or anywhere else in Asia, it will save time and money,” Netanyahu said. “This is amazing news for you, the citizens of Israel. These are the benefits of a peace that is genuine.”

Netanyahu concluded the video thanking White House senior adviser Jared Kushner, who also is President Donald Trump’s son-in-law, and Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, for their efforts in making the Saudi announcement happen.

The American Jewish Committee tweeted, “We welcome this historic milestone on the path toward broader Arab-Israeli reconciliation, cooperation, and peace.”


British researcher David Collier tweeted, “How are the Israel-hating BDS [boycott, divestment and sanctions] guys holding up? Not the best week for them.”


The announcement came after the United States and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) officials lobbied the Saudis for the past couple of weeks to open their airspace to Israel for flights to and from the UAE, according to Axios. On Aug. 31, the first ever flight from Israel to the UAE occurred, and it flew over Saudi airspace.

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