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Friday, March 31, 2023

Signs of rapprochement: Oman opens airspace for flights to and from Israel

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Israeli airlines are also allowed to land in Oman thanks to the new rules. For Israel, it is a “historic” decision.

With new rules for air traffic, Oman is now following Saudi Arabia in a sign of rapprochement with Israel. The country’s airspace will in future be open to all airlines that meet the requirements of the national aviation authority for an overflight, the authority said. In fact, this means that commercial flight connections to and from Israel are now possible and Israeli airlines are also allowed to fly through Omani airspace.

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Thanks to the opening of Saudi and Omani airspace, flight times between Israel and destinations in Asia could now be reduced by two and a half hours, Israeli media reported. Israel’s Foreign Minister Eli Cohen spoke of a “historic and important decision for the Israeli economy and for Israeli travelers”.

Oman and Israel do not have diplomatic relations. Saudi Arabia also opened its airspace to Israel in July last year. At the time, the kingdom released a similar statement that did not explicitly mention Israel, as does the vaguely worded statement from Oman.

The plans to open up the airspace have been in preparation since 2018 and have now been implemented “after considerable effort,” said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He spoke of “great news” for Israeli aviation.

The United Arab Emirates and Bahrain established diplomatic relations with Israel in 2020, mediated by the United States. However, Oman has not yet joined the so-called Abraham Accords itself.

The US government has welcomed the rapprochement between Oman and Israel, which has been supported by “months of quiet diplomatic engagement,” the White House said. The opening strengthens US President Joe Biden’s vision of “a more integrated, stable and prosperous Middle East region”.

Source: Stern

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