Photo Credit: Tony Bordelais
White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Omani Foreign Minister Sayyid Badr al-Busaidi last week to discuss the potential opening of Omani airspace to Israeli airlines, according to The New Arab.
U.S. and Israeli officials hope that progress made during talks last week will pave the way for Oman to open its airspace to Israeli airlines.
In July, Saudi Arabia allowed Israeli airlines to use its airspace for eastbound flights to India and China. This was an essential step toward normalizing relations between Saudi Arabia and Israel and one of the achievements of President Biden’s trip to the kingdom, Axios reported.
However, without permission from Oman, Israeli airlines’ flight routes are blocked, and the Saudi decision becomes meaningless.
In 2018, then-Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited Oman and obtained a commitment from Sultan Qaboos to allow Israeli airlines to use Omani airspace. Still, following the death of Qaboos, the current Sultan, Haitham bin Tariq, backed out of the decision.
On 10 August, the Sultanate of Oman refused to allow Israeli airliners to pass through its airspace, according to Hebrew media reports.
The reports detail that Tel Aviv hoped to acquire approval to fly its civilian airplanes through the Gulf country’s airspace and provide speedier routes to far eastern countries.
“Oman’s approval is critical and necessary [for Israel to pass through its territory] because, without its consent, flights using Saudi Arabia’s airspace cannot travel to the Indian Ocean and then to various destinations in the East,” the Israeli report states.
According to Middle East Monitor, “the Sultanate of Oman also refuses to adhere to the normalization agreements of the Abraham Accords with Israel, even though its neighbors, the UAE and Bahrain, have signed them.”
Recently, Al-Busaidi revealed his country’s position on establishing normalized relations with Israel, calling for a just resolution to the Palestinian issue.