Saudi Arabia said Wednesday that it will allow flights "from all countries" to cross its skies to reach the United Arab Emirates, after Israel's flag carrier El Al used it twice to fly directly to the UAE and back.
The Saudi Press Agency announcement on Wednesday comes just days after Saudi Arabia allowed the first direct Israeli commercial passenger flight to use its airspace en route to the United Arab Emirates, signaling approval for a breakthrough deal by the UAE to normalize relations with Israel.
It said the move comes in response to a "request by the UAE" for flights to and from the country.
A short time later, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Israeli flights to the Emirates would be able to fly directly.
Speaking in a video message, Netanyahu did not explicitly say Israeli planes could overfly Saudi territory but he traced the future flight route on a map to indicate it would be so.
Without using Saudi airspace, such flights would take some nine hours instead of three and a half hours.
"This will reduce the cost of flights, it will shorten the time, this will greatly develop tourism, it will develop our economy," Netanyahu said in the video statement.
"These are the fruits of real peace," he added.
On Monday, a little over two weeks after the White House announced that Israel and the UAE had reached an agreement to normlize ties, El Al flight LY971 took off from Tel Aviv to Abu Dhabi carrying dignitaries, businesspeople and journalists from both the U.S. and Israel.
It landed three and a half hours later in Abu Dhabi, having received unprecedented permission from Saudi Arabia to use its airspace.
El Al flight LY972 returned to Israel on Tuesday from the Emirati capital on the same route in reverse. The numbers of the two flights incorporated the international dialling codes for the UAE and Israel, respectively.
While Riyadh appears to have given its approval to the agreement between Israel and the UAE, the kingdom has signalled it is not ready to follow suit uintil there is progress in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.
White House aide Jared Kushner, who has taken the lead on U.S. President Donald Trump's "deal of the century" plan for Middle East peace, on Tuesday met with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to discuss the prospects for peace in the Middle East, the Saudi state news agency said.
The two also discussed the need to resume negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians, the report said.