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How high Israeli officials secretly fly to Saudi Arabia

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How high Israeli officials secretly fly to Saudi Arabia

Fri, 07/22/2022 - 17:28
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An official plane with foreign registrations and fictitious stops in neighboring countries: This is how high-ranking Israeli security officials and businessmen arrived in the capital of Saudi Arabia. An important focal point of US President Biden's visit to the Middle East this week is the continuation of positive relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia, within the spheres of security and diplomacy.

What can Biden get from MBS in Saudi Arabia? On the security side, Israel and the Gulf states have recently sought to establish a Middle East Air Defense Alliance against threats posed by Iran's growing stockpile of missiles and drones. Diplomatically, Israel and Saudi Arabia hope to reach an agreement that will finally allow the two Red Sea islands to be transferred to Saudi sovereignty, which in turn would allow Israeli commercial aircraft to fly over the Kingdom. These commercial flights would significantly reduce the travel time of Israelis flying to India. and Thailand, and the agreement would also include arrangements for visiting Mecca for Muslim citizens of Israel.

To this day, various high-ranking figures from Israel have secretly visited the kingdom, among them Benny Gantz when he was the chief of staff of the Israel Defense Forces and the head of the Mossad at the time, Tamir Pardo. Former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also visited Saudi Arabia in November 2020 and met with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, but that meeting was revealed in real time.

The flights did not take place in aircraft registered in Israel. In order to secretly reach Saudi Arabia, visitors departing from Ben-Gurion had to board a private plane registered in a third country. Several dozen private jets registered in San Marino, the Cayman Islands, the United States... and elsewhere - owned by Israeli billionaires - were used for these purposes. (Haaretz)