Israel to launch direct flights with Egypt holiday resort Sharm el-Sheikh, in normalisation boost

Israel to launch direct flights with Egypt holiday resort Sharm el-Sheikh, in normalisation boost
In a sign of growing relations between Israel and Egypt, it has been announced that flights between Ben Gurion and Sharm el-Sheikh will start in April.
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The flight path will run between Ben Gurion International Airport and Sharm el-Sheikh [Getty]

Israel is to launch direct flights to Sharm El-Sheikh on Egypt's Red Sea coast next month, in an expansion of air links between the two countries, officials said Wednesday.

"The route from Ben Gurion International Airport to Sharm el-Sheikh will open soon. Flights are expected to begin during the intermediate days of Passover next month," a statement from the Israeli prime minister’s office said.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said: "This agreement will bring Israel and Egypt closer together."

The statement said the new air link had been discussed in September talks between Bennett and President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on the first visit to Egypt by an Israeli premier in a decade.

It was finalised during a visit by a delegation from Israel's Shin Bet domestic security agency over the past few days.

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Bennett said Israel was "opening up to the countries of the region and the basis for this longstanding recognition is the peace between Israel and Egypt".

Direct flights already link Cairo with Ben Gurion airport, near Tel Aviv. 

Palestinian activists have urged Arab nations to boycott Israel due to its continued occupation of Palestinian land.

Until 2020, Egypt and Jordan were the only Arab governments to have normalised relations with Israel. The Arab League also sees the creation of a Palestinian state as a necessary step toward normalisation.

In 2020 Bahrain, Morocco and the UAE normalised relations with Israel, which all now operate direct flights to the Jewish state.

Sudan has also taken steps towards this and officially recognises Israel.

The normalisation agreements, brokered by the administration of then-US president Donald Trump, broke with decades of Arab consensus and were condemned as "treason" by the Palestinians.