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Israel asks Saudi Arabia to fly Mecca pilgrims directly from Tel Aviv

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JERUSALEM — Israel Regional Cooperation Minister said Thursday that he requested Saudi Arabia to allow direct flights from Tel Aviv for Muslim pilgrims, allowing new accommodation by Riad prior to next week's visit to U.S. President Joe Byden. Pointed out the sex.

Israeli authorities are also seeking extended permission for their airlines to fly over Saudi soil to Asian destinations.

Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of Islam, is unaware of Israel and makes no mention of possible bilateral development during the visit to Byden. Israel has also avoided drawing such links.

However, Israel's Regional Cooperation Minister Esawi Freij said that Israel is "under the counter" between countries, primarily based on common concerns about commercial interests and Iran. He said he was working to bring about contact. Be more open.

Freiji, an 18% Muslim member of Israel, said on a pilgrimage to Mekka, "I want to see the day when I can leave for Jeda from Bengrion (an airport near Tel Aviv) to fulfill my religious obligations." Said a few.

"I brought this issue to Saudi Arabia. I really hope that day will come," he expanded to Israeli Army Radio when and where such discussions took place. Said without doing.

Saudi Arabia has long accepted Muslim pilgrims from Israel, but they must travel to a third country. After all, a one-week stay costs about $ 11,500, Freiji said. Pilgrims from neighboring Arab countries pay about half of that.

When the Arab Emirates and Bahrain established relations with Israel in 2020, Riad agreed to provide Saudi aerial corridors for Israeli planes to these Gulf countries. rice field.

"We are discussing the acquisition of general (Saudi) flight rights to destinations other than Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Manama, so that we can reach destinations in Asia, for example. It saves a lot of time, "Israel officials told Reuters. (Written by Dan Williams and edited by Tomasz Janowski)