|Israeli Airlines El Al | Pic by Reuters|
Israeli media Ynet reported that ahead of US President Joe Biden's visit to the Middle East next week, Israel hopes Saudi Arabia will allow it to use its airspace for commercial flights.
Launching the Al Araby page, Tuesday (5/7/2022), Israel is currently trying to build direct flights to Japan and is trying to use Saudi airspace to make it happen. Israel's ambassador to Japan is in talks with airline El Al and Israel's tourism minister to operate the flights.
US media Bloomberg reported last month that an agreement between Israel and the Saudis on the use of airspace was under discussion. Israeli airlines are already flying over Saudi Arabia for trips to Bahrain and the UAE, two Gulf states that are normalizing relations with Israel in 2020.
However, Saudi Arabia restricts all other flights to and from Israel, with a few exceptions. Israel's former foreign minister Yair Lapid who became the country's prime minister on July 1 told the press last month talks about a deal to use Saudi airspace were not without basis.
The suspected talks come as Biden's trip, which will include visits to Israel and Saudi Arabia, draws near. Israeli officials said they hoped the US president's trip could bring about an improvement in Israeli-Saudi relations. Saudi Arabia has so far resisted normalizing relations with Israel, despite informal ties.
The US is currently believed to be brokering a deal between the two countries that could be a precursor for the two countries to fully normalize relations. On Monday evening, an Israeli television journalist for Channel 13 spoke about his visit to the Gulf kingdom and the mixed reception he received.
Military correspondent Alon Ben David and his team traveled on non-Israeli passports, as Saudi Arabia has not yet received Israeli visitors, but he said he immediately felt comfortable enough to tell Saudis he was Israeli. Ben David said he was welcomed by some Saudis, while others were cold to him.
American Jewish analyst Avi Jorisch wrote in the Jerusalem Post last week that he was part of a delegation of 50 Jewish business leaders closely affiliated with Israel that visited Saudi Arabia last month. "It felt like old friends and family reunited," Jorisch said of the visit.
The delegation visited the Prophet's Mosque in the holy city of Medina which for centuries was only open to Muslims.