first_imgThe official Saudi Press Agency said the kingdom had accepted an Emirati request to allow the use of its airspace for “flights heading to the UAE and departing from it to all countries”.Netanyahu, meanwhile, announced that Monday’s landmark commercial flight across Saudi Arabia would not be the last.”Now there is another tremendous breakthrough,” he wrote in a statement shortly after the Saudi announcement.”Israeli planes and those from all countries will be able to fly directly from Israel to Abu Dhabi and Dubai, and back,” Netanyahu said, without giving any timeline. Saudi Arabia agreed Wednesday to permit UAE flights to “all countries” to overfly the kingdom, as Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu signaled more direct flights linking the UAE with the Jewish state.The announcement comes after the first direct commercial flight from Tel Aviv to Abu Dhabi on Monday, which passed through Saudi airspace, to mark the normalization of Israel-UAE ties.Riyadh’s decision marks another concrete sign of Saudi Arabia’s cooperation with Israel even after it refused publicly to follow the UAE in establishing diplomatic relations with the Jewish state. Sensitive politics President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and advisor Jared Kushner, who has led a US push for Gulf states to establish ties with Israel as it seeks to isolate Iran, led an American delegation aboard Monday’s flight.Saudi Arabia’s decision comes after Kushner met Prince Mohammed on Tuesday in the planned Red Sea megacity of NEOM.On Wednesday, Kushner met with Qatari ruler Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani to discuss “the peace process in the Middle East region,” according to Qatar’s state news agency.There was no comment by the emir on the UAE’s normalization of ties with Israel, or any suggestion that Doha could follow suit.Saudi Arabia, the Arab world’s biggest economy and home to Islam’s holiest sites, faces more sensitive political calculations than the UAE.Not only would a formal recognition of Israel be seen by Palestinians and their supporters as a betrayal of their cause, it would also hurt the kingdom’s image as the leader of the Islamic world.In 2002, Saudi Arabia sponsored the Arab Peace Initiative which called for Israel’s complete withdrawal from the Palestinian territories occupied in the Six-Day War of 1967 and an equitable solution for Palestinian refugees, in exchange for peace and the full normalization of relations. “Flights will be cheaper and shorter, and it will lead to robust tourism and develop our economy,” he said.center_img ‘Alternative normalization’ Saudi Arabia has said it will not establish diplomatic ties with Israel until the Jewish state has signed an internationally recognized peace accord with the Palestinians.Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan insisted that Wednesday’s decision does not change the kingdom’s “firm and established” position towards the Palestinian issue.But the kingdom has cultivated clandestine relations with Israel in recent years based on a shared animosity towards Iran, in a shift spearheaded by de facto leader Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.”This is what I would call ‘alternative normalization’,” said Ryan Bohl, of the US geopolitical think tank Stratfor, referring to Riyadh’s announcement.”Saudi Arabia will explore indirect relations with Israel until the Saudi public is better prepared for a deeper strategic change. That will be a slow process,” Bohl told AFP.Allowing flights between Israel and the UAE to cross Saudi airspace save long detours around the Arabian peninsula.”Today’s announcement signals… the warming of relations between the kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Israel,” Marc Schneier, an American rabbi with close ties to the Gulf, told AFP.”While they are still deeply committed to the Palestinian people, this first step is a big one and should be celebrated.”This is not the first time the kingdom has opened its airspace for Israel-bound flights.In March 2018, Air India launched the first scheduled service to Israel that was allowed to cross Saudi airspace. Topics :last_img read more

first_imgDolphins, Immigration winGroup B leaders, First Bank Basketball Club of Lagos monday walloped Taraba Hurricanes 104-17 in one of the matches of the second phase of the Zenith Bank Women Basketball League in Asaba, Delta State.Also yesterday, defending champions, Dolphins of Lagos defeated AHIP 77-54 to make their passage to the Final Eight a done deal.In some of the other games played, Immigration defeated Oluyole Babes 38-36 in a low scoring game that could have gone either way. Both teams were lethargic and struggled to see the game through, while FCT Angels beat Nasarawa Amazons 38-28 to record another victory in this second phase.However, First Bank who are yet to lose a game since the first phase in Abuja, were at their best yesterday dominating their opponent throughout the games.The Elephant Girls (First Bank) showed better understanding of the game and took apart the hapless ladies from Taraba, who may not have a part to play in the final round of the league, which comes up in Lagos.The FIBA Zone Three champions are benefitting from arriving in Asaba two weeks before the jump-ball and have dished out many eye-catching performances, which have left the fans asking for more. The inclusion of home-girl, Nkechi Akashili in the First Bank team has also drawn support to the team.First Bank’s coach Peter Ahmedu while assessing his team’s performance to date attributed their good run to hardwork put in by the coaching crew and the players.He added that they are also reaping the benefits of arriving in Asaba early for the second phase.Share this:FacebookRedditTwitterPrintPinterestEmailWhatsAppSkypeLinkedInTumblrPocketTelegramlast_img read more