Saudi Arabia agreed to open airspace to Israeli flights: Kushner

Saudi Arabia agreed to open airspace to Israeli flights: Kushner
Senior Trump adviser Jared Kushner added that Bahrain also agreed to a similar move after Saudi Arabia
2 min read
10 September, 2020
Kushner said the move will significantly cut travel time [Getty]
Saudi Arabia agreed to open its airspace to all Israeli flights travelling eastward, US President Donald Trump's senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner confirmed on Wednesday.

Kushner made the claim in a press conference ahead of the signing of the Abraham Accords normalisation agreement between the UAE and Israel on 15 September.

"Countries are starting to let go of old conflicts and move in the direction of peace," he said, adding that Bahrain has also agreed to open its airspace.

"All this will cut down a lot of the travel time between different countries that [will] allow people from Saudi to go to Europe faster if they fly over Israel, and people [traveling] from Israel to Asia and Asia to Israel to have much more connectivity."

"It's a tremendous barrier that's been taken away. You're seeing everyday new announcements of airlines that are looking to fly from Israel to different Arab cities that traditionally they weren't allowed to go to and back.

"You have a lot of excitement building in the Arab and Muslim world, with people wanting to go to Israel to visit the tourist sites and to pray at Al-Aqsa Mosque. You're seeing kosher restaurants opening up now in Dubai."

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The UAE, a federation of seven emirates which are mostly dependent on petrodollars, is keen to cash in on the influx of Israeli investment and travel, particularly as the coronavirus pandemic shrinks demand for oil and slows tourism.

It hopes to lure Israeli entrepreneurs to set up shop and well-to-do expatriates to purchase luxury apartments in the coastal emirate of Dubai, which is struggling to cope with the financial fallout of the virus.

Palestinians have fiercely opposed the Israel-UAE deal, calling it a "betrayal" and a "stab in the back" which undermines an Arab consensus that relations with Israel should only be normalised when it withdraws from all the occupied Palestinian territories.

On Wednesday, however, the Palestinian Authority (PA) will toned down its criticism of the UAE at an Arab League summit.

According to a draft statement, viewed by Reuters, President Mahmoud Abbas warned his diplomats attending the summit not to use offensive statements towards the UAE over the 13 August deal with Israel.

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