Saudi Arabia says opening airspace to Israel is not normalisation

Saudi Arabia says opening airspace to Israel is not normalisation
2 min read
29 July, 2022
Saudi Arabia said opening up its airspace to Israel is not a step toward normalisation and it is only to fulfil international obligations
Saudi Arabia recently allowed Israeli planes to overfly its territory [Getty]

Saudi Arabia has denied that opening up its airspace to Israel is a prelude to normalisation.

Last week Riyadh announced that it had opened its airspace to all civilian carriers, including all flights to and from Israel following a visit from US President Joe Biden.

The move came after Israeli officials consistently sought expanded permission for their airlines to fly over Saudi territory to Asian destinations.

The Saudi decision sparked outrage in the Arab world, with many people saying that the kingdom will be next in line to normalise relations with Israel after the UAE, Bahrain, and Morocco.

The Chargé d'Affairs in the Saudi permanent delegation to the UN, Muhammad Al-Ateeq, said on Thursday however that the new policy does not change Riyadh's official policy on Palestine.

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Saudi Arabia said the decision to allow the use of airspace for all airlines is purely linked to international obligations.

"Saudi Arabia stresses the importance of comprehensive and lasting peace in the Middle East as a strategic option to end one of the longest and most complex historical conflicts in the contemporary world, based on the two-state solution and per international agreements", Al-Ateeq said.

Dubbed the Abraham Accords, Israel's normalisation deals with three Arab countries in 2020 were slammed by Palestinians as a betrayal of their cause, rewarding Israel while it continues to occupy the West Bank and besiege the Gaza Strip.

Opinion polls showed that the overwhelming majority of respondents in the Arab world were opposed to them.

Israel previously signed peace deals with Egypt in 1979 and Jordan in 1994.