An Israeli official said on Saturday he expects members of the country’s Muslim minority to travel directly to Saudi Arabia for pilgrimage by next year, as the kingdom signaled new openings as it hosted US President Joe Biden. .
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On Friday, Riyadh said its airspace would be open to all carriers – a de facto extension of flyover rights for Israeli aircraft, which previously only had a Saudi corridor to Gulf destinations, including various Asia routes.
Israel’s Minister of Regional Cooperation, Esawi Freeze, said the Saudi decision shows that the US-encouraged efforts to move countries toward more normal relations are “at a very advanced stage” for Muslims like themselves. You can turn a dream into a reality”.
“I believe that, in a year, Muslim Israeli citizens will be able to fulfill their pilgrimage duty from Ben Gurion (airport near Tel Aviv) to Jeddah and from there to Mecca,” Frege told public broadcaster Cannes.
He declined to say what the prophecy was based on.
There was no immediate comment from Riyadh.
Last week, Freeze said he had asked Saudi Arabia to allow direct Tel Aviv-Jeddah flights for Muslim pilgrims. A US official told Reuters on Thursday that such a permission is in the works.
Saudi Arabia has long granted entry to Muslim pilgrims from Israel, but they must travel from third countries. Freeze said a one-week stay ends up costing about $11,500. Pilgrims from neighboring Arab countries pay almost half of it.
The birthplace of Islam, Saudi Arabia does not recognize Israel, saying it would need to address the goals of the Palestinian state first.
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