Israel Hayom: The first step will be to open Saudi airspace to Israeli aircraft (Getty)
“Israel Hayom” newspaper reported today, Sunday, that Saudi Arabia is ready to open its airspace to Israeli flights, as part of a gradual normalization scheme between it and Israel, in exchange for Israel’s agreement to Saudi terms regarding with island security agreements. of Tirana and Sanafir, whose sovereignty Egypt transferred under President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi to Saudi Arabia in 2017.
The Israeli newspaper used the phrase “comprehensive opening of the skies” to indicate that there would be no Saudi restrictions on the passage of Israeli flights through Saudi airspace, which is immediate news for Israelis wishing to travel to East Asian countries. .
Israel was forced to travel first to Amman, and from there take a plane to the Far East, or take “transit” flights to the Emirates, and from there to places such as Thailand and Vietnam, or depart for Cyprus. and Turkey, and from there with flights to the companies of these countries to the Far East.
The newspaper considers that this Saudi move is good news for Israeli airlines as well, all of which are part of an agreement that is being worked out between Saudi Arabia and Israel with American mediation.
However, Israel Hayom noted that this is “a small part of a much broader process of political normalization, which is supposed to happen soon and bring about a sharp change in the map of alliances in the Middle East.”
The Israeli newspaper continued: “According to what is known in this column, Saudi Arabia and Israel have for years established informal relations represented by secret cooperation between them. Today, the alliance between the two countries is on the verge of coming. To open, if at least in part, in light of the “Iranian threat feared in Jerusalem and Riyadh, and in light of Saudi Arabia’s desire to warm cold relations with the United States, and accordingly it is expected that the Saudi-Israeli normalization dossier will to witness a new development.
According to the same newspaper, the main instigator and driver of this trend in Saudi Arabia is Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, but “he can not continue with this issue until the end due to the opposition of his father, King Salman.”
The report noted that Saudi airspace is now open to Israeli flights only to the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, as part of normalization agreements known as the “Abraham agreements”. The Indian airline, Air India, also has its own permit to cross. Saudi airspace. “But this whole scene will change soon, when Israeli planes fly and foreign companies fly to Israel from Saudi airspace,” according to the same newspaper.
According to the newspaper, Israel has requested direct flights from Tel Aviv to Saudi Arabia to transport pilgrims from the Palestinians inside, who have been performing Hajj since 1978 and did so initially from the ground through Jordan, while in recent years have been allowed to do so. that by flights, provided they travel from Lod Airport to Amman and from there to Saudi Arabia.
In exchange for these Saudi steps, Israel will be given, according to the newspaper, a green light to transfer to Saudi Arabia full sovereignty over the islands of Tirana and Sanafir. Although both islands are uninhabited, they are of strategic importance because they control navigation on the Red Sea and control navigation towards the port of Eilat.
This whole process is being mediated by the US administration, which in turn is concerned with increasing the rate of Saudi oil production in order to lower oil prices in global markets.
Egypt seeks full transfer of sovereignty of two islands to Saudi Arabia and the move was approved by the Egyptian side, including according to court rulings, in exchange for economic support from Saudi Arabia, but, according to the Israeli newspaper, “Transfer of two islands to Saudi Arabia under the Israeli peace treaty – the Egyptian “Camp David” agreed to transfer the two islands to a third country.
The paper added that the whole process is being mediated by the US administration, which in turn has to increase the rate of production of Saudi oil in order to reduce oil prices in global markets, which were raised after the embargo. Russian oil due to the latter’s occupation of Ukraine. The problem was the stalemate in Saudi-US relations, against the background of the assassination of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi at his country’s consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, on October 2, 2018.
Israel Hayom concluded that President Biden, after years of boycotting Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, will meet with bin Salman during his visit to Saudi Arabia and in the first phase will shake hands with him publicly, but without holding a closed meeting between the two. .
It seems, according to the newspaper, that contacts between the United States, Saudi Arabia and Israel have reached very advanced stages, but so far no final understanding has been reached. It seems that the postponement of Biden’s visit to the region for next month, instead of the end of this month, is related to the American desire to initially reach a comprehensive and comprehensive agreement between the three countries, and only after that Biden will make a “diplomatic victory tour”.