No change in Palestine stance, says Saudi Arabia after opening airspace to all carriers

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and King Salman bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in 2015 (Thaer Ghanaim - Palestinian Press Office)

Middle East Monitor  /  July 29, 2022

Saudi Arabia has reiterated that it will not change its firm position on the Palestinian issue, despite its decision to open its airspace to all international aircraft, including those from Israel, Anadolu News Agency reports.

This was stated by Mohamed Al-Atiq, the acting chargé d’affaires of the Saudi Arabia’s permanent delegation to the UN, during a Security Council session on Palestine, the official Saudi Press Agency reported on Thursday evening.

“Saudi Arabia confirmed that its firm and constant stance toward the Palestinian cause and the Palestinian people will not change by allowing international flights to cross the Kingdom’s airspace,” he said.

The official stressed that “the decision to allow the use of airspace for all airlines is linked to international obligations, and this step does not mean that it is a prelude to other steps.”

In mid-July, US President Joe Biden landed in Jeddah after flying directly from Tel Aviv, Israel’s capital.

Just before Biden’s arrival, Saudi Arabia’s civil aviation body announced the opening of its airspace to all air carriers that meet the authority’s requirements to access its airspace.

Since the declaration did not exclude Israeli carriers, it effectively lifted restrictions on flights to and from Israel, which was welcomed by Tel Aviv.

Following the decision, Saudi Foreign Minister, Faisal bin Farhan, affirmed that “this does not mean diplomatic relations with Israel, nor does it mean any other steps.”

Saudi Arabia has no diplomatic relations with Israel and has stated repeatedly that it will not normalize relations with Tel Aviv until the Palestinian issue is resolved.