Israel is trying to persuade Saudi Arabia to allow it to send special Hajj pilgrimage flights to Mecca, constructing on Trump administration efforts in order to strengthen cooperation between the two countries.
Instead of enduring the particular 1, 000-mile bus route over the Jordan River and through the Saudi desert to reach Islam’ s the majority of sacred shrine, Israel hopes the Muslim citizens will be able to fly directly into the kingdom from Tel Aviv’ s Ben Gurion International Airport, Marketing communications Minister Ayoob Kara said. Simply two months ago, Trump broke the longstanding taboo by flying between your two nations, which do not have official diplomatic relations or airline hyperlinks but have drawn closer recently due to a shared enemy, Iran.
“ Reality has changed, ” Kara said in an interview immediately at his office in Jerusalem. “ This is a good time to make the ask for, and I’ m working hard onto it. ”
Saudi Arabia, the world’ s biggest oil exporter, offers dangled the prospect of air visitors and other commercial ties between the 2 countries since proposing its Arabic Peace Initiative in 2002. In exchange, Israel would have to accept a Palestinian state and withdraw from areas it has occupied since the 1967 Center East war, something it isn’ t willing to do. But their mistrust of Iran’ s ambitions made cooperation an open secret.
Both Trump and Israeli Excellent Minister Benjamin Netanyahu say participation by Saudi Arabia and its Gulf of mexico neighbors would be useful in reaching a peacefulness deal with the Palestinians.
Facilitating the pilgrimage in order to Mecca is one of several suggested sweeteners aimed at inducing Israel for making negotiating concessions to the Palestinians, Kara said. Others include lifting a few trade restrictions, improving telecommunications hyperlinks with the Gulf and giving overflight permission to Israeli air carriers, preserving them time and money on flights in order to Asia.
“ There’ s a long good Hajj travel being used as a confidence-building gesture, partly because it has a chastity of religious purpose, and yet national politics are involved because borders are not open up in the Middle East, ” said Scott Lasensky, a visiting fellow on the Institute for National Security Research in Tel Aviv and a previous policy adviser at the U. H. Embassy in Israel.
Regarding 6, 000 Israeli Arabs associated with Hajj journey every year, most upon group bus tours, though a number of hundred are allowed to fly in order to Saudi Arabia from Jordan’ s i9000 Queen Alia International Airport, Kara stated.
Saudi Arabia makes an exception to the official hands-off policy with His home country of israel when it comes to the Hajj because of its spiritual duty as guardian of the ay city to facilitate travel to Mecca for all Muslims. Even so, Kara states the trip can be difficult. The busses are often in poor condition, air cooling breaks down and border delays are usually frequent. Because Saudi Arabia doesn’ t honor Israeli passports, the citizens are issued temporary Jordanian travel documents, which often take a very long time to process, he says.
Ideally, Israeli travelers to Mecca should be able to fly non-stop from Tel Aviv, but the route being discussed may have a stop in Jordan yet another country, Kara said. Also within discussion is the prospect of Saudi Arabia issuing temporary passports for your Israeli pilgrims, instead of relying on Michael jordan, which has a formal peace treaty along with Israel, he said in the Come july 1st 10 interview.
Kara said he’ s spoken in order to government officials in Saudi Persia, Jordan and other countries about the Hajj plan and they’ re “ ready to do it, but it’ h very sensitive and it’ ersus still a matter of negotiation. ”
Saudi Arabia’ s Common Authority of Civil Aviation failed to immediately respond to an email and call requesting comment.
The spokesman for Royal Jordanian mentioned no one from the airline had been approached by Israeli officials about the issue.
" RJ usually transports Arab 48 Hajj or Omrah passengers from Tel Aviv to Amman and then through Amman to Jeddah or Medina and vice versa, ” the particular spokesman said in emailed remarks. Ummrah is another Muslim pilgrimage, whilst “ Arab 48” is a euphemism for Israeli Arabs.
Under the Radar
A good increasing amount of Israeli businesses have been doing business in Saudi Persia and its Gulf neighbors, mostly via subsidiaries that mask their roots. Some of the most sought-after Israeli products are usually in the fields of cyber-defense, farming technology and desalination, Israeli authorities say, Publicly, Saudi authorities state the kingdom has no commercial relationships with Israel.
Kara, a Druze Arabic who fought in the Israeli army, opposes Palestinian statehood and is increasingly loyal to Netanyahu, said this individual believes Gulf countries will deepen commercial ties with Israel even though peace efforts collapse. He previously was Netanyahu’ s deputy ressortchef (umgangssprachlich) for regional cooperation, a role this individual said put him in contact with market leaders from many countries that don’ t have diplomatic ties along with Israel.
“ For your countries in this region, what provides a lot more defense than tanks and aircraft? ” said Kara. “ They require cyber-defense, and that’ s a fundamental element of my office. ”
Palestinians fear Netanyahu will try in order to strike agreements with the Gulf nations, which share Israel’ s safety concerns about Iran, while making them stateless. Kara, who states Israel’ s ties with the wider Arab world can’ t forever be held hostage to the Palestinian issue, hopes his new work can help promote Israel as a industrial partner in Arab countries.
“ It opens doorways, ” Kara said. “ I would like to use it to help develop Israeli company everywhere, certainly in the Persian Gulf of mexico and also across the entire Arab entire world. ”