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Lapid: Saudi overflights a first official step toward normalization

US President Joe Biden shakes hands with Israel's President Isaac Herzog and Prime Minister Yair Lapid before departing Israel's Ben Gurion Airport on July 15, 2022 for Jeddah, Saudi Arabia (MANDEL NGAN / AFP)
US President Joe Biden shakes hands with Israel's President Isaac Herzog and Prime Minister Yair Lapid before departing Israel's Ben Gurion Airport on July 15, 2022 for Jeddah, Saudi Arabia (MANDEL NGAN / AFP)

Prime Minister Yair Lapid says the Saudi decision to open its airspace to Israeli flights is a “first official step” in a larger diplomatic process to normalization with the Jewish state.

“We woke up this morning to happy news. The Saudi aviation authorities have announced that they will be opening Saudi airspace to Israeli airlines. This is the first official step in normalization with Saudi Arabia,” he says, in remarks to the press gathered at the airport, as Air Force One departs in the background.

“The decision will allow Israeli airlines to fly on a direct route to Asia and Australia. This will save vast amounts of fuel, time and money. The savings will directly reach the pockets of Israeli citizens and lower the price of airline tickets.

“I thank the Saudi leadership for the opening of Saudi airspace. This is only the first step. We will continue working with necessary caution, for the sake of Israel’s economy, security and the good of our citizens,” Lapid says.

He adds cryptically that Biden’s two-day trip also included “achievements that will take years before we can talk about them.”

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