Israeli delegates plane flying to UAE will fly over Saudi Arabia, say sources

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Updated: Aug 30, 2020 10:30 PM

Israel’s flag carrier El Al will carry the delegations to Abu Dhabi for talks meant to put final touches on a pact establishing open relations between the Gulf power and Israel.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Senior U.S. Presidential Adviser Jared Kushner make joint statements about the Israeli-United Arab Emirates peace accords in Jerusalem. (Courtesy: Reuters photo)

An airliner carrying Israeli and U.S. delegations to the UAE on Monday will fly over Saudi Arabia, according to a source familiar with the itinerary, in what would be the first publicly acknowledged entry of an Israeli plane into Saudi air space.

Israel’s flag carrier El Al will bring aides to U.S. President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – along with travelling journalists – to Abu Dhabi for talks meant to put final touches on a pact establishing open relations between the United Arab Emirates and Israel.

Asked if the plane would fly over Saudi Arabia in order to manage its planned three hour and 20 minute flight time, the source, who declined to be identified by name or nationality pending an official announcement of the route, said: “Yes.”

The four countries and El Al have declined to comment on the route.

The U.S.-brokered deal between the UAE and Israel has raised speculation that other U.S.-backed Gulf Arab countries might follow. A senior member of the Saudi royal family said this month that Riyadh would only normalize ties with Israel after the creation of a Palestinian state.

In 2018, Netanyahu made a surprise visit to Oman on a tight schedule that suggested his plane would have had to fly over Saudi Arabia. He and his aides refused to provide any details on that route.

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