Netanyahu promises direct flights to Saudi Arabia – The Jerusalem Post

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised to launch direct flights to Saudi Arabia if he is victorious in Tuesday’s elections. “I’m going to bring you direct flights from Tel Aviv to Mecca,” Netanyahu said in an interview with Channel 13’s Ayala Hasson on Saturday night in a statement that hinted at the establishment of normalized ties with Saudi Arabia. Speculation had always been high in the last year of the Trump administration that such ties would come to fruition under the rubric of the Abraham Accords, in which Israel established normalized relations with four Arab states. But normalized ties with Saudi Arabia never materialized. Saudi Arabia, however, did grant Israel flyover rights, something it had denied the Jewish state in the past. In his Channel 13 interview, Netanyahu touted those four agreements and promised that four more deals would be finalized. It was a pledge that he made last week as well. He brushed aside criticism with respect to the failed and ultimately canceled meeting with the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan. Netanyahu had been scheduled to fly to the United Arab Emirates for the meeting, but first it was canceled because of a diplomatic snafu with Jordan. As a result of the fiasco, Amman would not let an Emirati plane leave Amman for Tel Aviv to collect Netanyahu for the visit.

The UAE rejected an attempt to reschedule the visit, explaining that they did not want to be part of Netanyahu’s reelection campaign. There was some speculation that had Netanyahu made the trip to the UAE he would have met with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. When pressed by Hasson about whether ties with the UAE were problematic, Netanyahu said, “our relations with the UAE are very strong” and pointed to the UAE pledge to invest NIS 40 billion in Israel. Netanyahu in his Channel 13 interview also touted his close ties with both US President Joe Biden, who he has known for over three decades, and Russian President Vladimir Putin. The relationship with Putin, he said, was particularly important when it came to ensuring Israel Air Force’s ability to operate aerially in Syria, so that it could attack Iranian-related targets and prevent Tehran from entrenching itself in that country. When asked about the impact of the US-Russian tensions on his relations with both countries, he said that he knew how to stay the course in both cases.

Lahav Harkov contributed to this report.

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Netanyahu promises direct flights to Saudi Arabia – The Jerusalem Post

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