Israel says “work is underway” with Saudi Arabia with regard to the overflight of Israeli aircraft over the Saudi territory as part of the normalization process.
“Work is underway with Saudi Arabia regarding the overflight of Israeli aircraft over its territory, which may reduce the flight time as part of the normalization process,” said Israeli Transportation Minister Merav Michaeli on Friday.
Michaeli pointed out that no results can be expected at this time, “but work is in progress”.
“I, who believe in resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through a regional settlement, try to use transportation for this, which is a very important tool to strengthen these relations,” Michaeli asserted.
Her remarks come less than a week after Israeli Hebrew-language daily newspaper Israel Hayom reported that a trilateral deal is being worked out between Israel, Saudi Arabia and the United States, which represents as a new step towards normalization of ties between Tel Aviv and Riyadh.
The newspaper pointed out that Saudi Arabia is about to open its airspace to Israeli airlines.
Saudi Arabian airspace is currently only open to Israeli airlines when flying to the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain under the so-called Abraham Accords brokered by former US president Donald Trump in 2020.
Air India, the flag carrier airline of India, reportedly has a special permit to fly through Saudi Arabian airspace when flying between India and the Israeli-occupied territories.
Even though Israel and Saudi Arabia do not have formal diplomatic relations, Riyadh has taken a number of steps recently toward normalizing relations with the Tel Aviv regime.
Back on May 30, Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said the Tel Aviv regime is coordinating with the United States and Persian Gulf nations on a process to normalize and establish full diplomatic ties with Saudi Arabia.
“We believe that it is possible to have a normalization process with Saudi Arabia. It’s in our interest,” Lapid told Army Radio.
“We’ve already said that this is the next step after the [so-called] Abraham Accords to talk about a long and careful process,” he added, referring to the 2020 normalization deals that Israel reached with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco and Sudan under Trump.
Lapid warned that the process of normalization with Saudi Arabia would be a lengthy one with progress coming in small steps, asserting that both sides have security interests at stake.
Last month, a high-ranking Israeli official reportedly visited Saudi Arabia and met with a senior Saudi official, fueling speculation that the two sides could be taking reciprocal steps toward the “normalization” of their relations.
Israeli media outlets reported on Friday that the unnamed official traveled to the Saudi capital and met a senior Saudi figure inside the royal palace.
Hebrew-language Channel 12 television network described the visit as a sign that relations between Riyadh and Tel Aviv are “warming up.”
According to the channel, the visit was meant to coordinate security cooperation between the two sides, among other things.