0708 GMT January 20, 2021
On Thursday night, an Air India passenger jet became the first commercial flight to Israel to transit Saudi airspace, Press TV reported.
“We will be flying non-stop from New Delhi to Tel Aviv from March 22 over Saudi airspace,” Air India spokesman Praveen Bhatnagar told the agency.
There will be three flights weekly in each direction, ending a decades-long Saudi ban on the use of its airspace for commercial flights to Israel.
Israeli Transport Minister Yisrael Katz, who was on the tarmac when the flight landed at the Ben Gurion airport, said “it is the first time that there is an official connection” between Riyadh and Tel Aviv.
“This is a historic moment,” he added.
The Times of Israel described the flight as “a sign of a behind-the-scenes improvement in ties” between Israel and Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia and Israel have no official diplomatic relations, but their relations have been rapidly growing over the past months, according to reports.
The regime in Riyadh has even drawn up a roadmap to normalize ties with the regime and go public about their long secret cooperation.
The development came weeks after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described the regime’s relations with the Arab world as at their “best ever.”
Led by Saudi Arabia, many of the Arab states have been increasingly reversing their traditional policy of representing themselves as Israel’s enemies and upholders of the Palestinian cause of ending Israeli occupation.