(Photo Credit: Flash 90)
According to Israel’s Foreign Minister Eli Cohen, Oman agreed to open its airspace to all Israeli carriers on 23 February, including commercial flights, despite Muscat and Tel Aviv having no diplomatic ties.
Cohen thanked Oman’s Sultan Haitham bin Tariq Al-Said for opening the Gulf state’s airspace to Israel, granting shorter routes to several places in Asia, such as India.
The Israeli foreign minister remarked that this “historic decision will shorten the road to Asia, lower costs for Israeli citizens, and help Israeli airlines to be more competitive.”
This decision greatly helps Israeli air carriers navigate the region, given that Israeli officials disclosed they could not use Saudi Arabia’s air space until Muscat consented, as trips over the kingdom’s airspace would entail flying through Oman.
Since the signing of the Abraham Accords in 2020 – a normalization agreement between Israel and several Arab states such as Bahrain, the UAE, and Morocco – other regional countries have warmed up to Israel, including Saudi Arabia, which opened its airspace to Israel in August 2022.
The Saudi authorities noted that this approval is important for Israeli tourists heading to or returning from countries located in East Asia and Muslim pilgrims from Israel who want to proceed with their Hajj to Mecca.
Last month, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan that Tel Aviv is ready to normalize relations with Saudi Arabia and bring it into the “circle of peace.”
As part of these efforts, Riyadh has relaxed the entry rules for Israeli passport holders, with dozens of business people representing Tel Aviv recently traveling to the kingdom.
According to several reports, Netanyahu and Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman held secret meetings in November 2020. The meeting was also attended by former US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and the former head of Mossad, Yossi Cohen.