Biden will announce early Israel-Saudi normalization moves, officials say

During Biden visit, Riyadh could announce it will allow Israeli flights to Far East using kingdom's airspace and Israeli Muslims to arrive for holy pilgrimage on indirect flights

Itamar Eichner|
U.S. President Joe Biden, who will arrive in Israel Wednesday afternoon, will launch initial moves toward normalizing relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia, Israeli officials said on Wednesday.
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  • Such a step would likely see Riyadh allowing Israeli commercial flights to use the kingdom's airspace en route to the Far East.
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    מוחמד בן סלמאן  ג 'ו ביידן
    מוחמד בן סלמאן  ג 'ו ביידן
    U.S. President Joe Biden, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman
    (Photo: AP, AFP)
    There may also be an agreement to allow Israeli Muslim pilgrims to arrive at Muslim holy sites scattered throughout the kingdom on indirect flights.
    A senior official said the relations with Saudi Arabia are very fragile and sensitive and urged patience before making official statements.
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    מכה
    מכה
    Muslim pilgrims at the Kaaba in Mecca
    (Photo: Shutterstock)
    "Be patient for a couple more days until the process is complete," an official said. "We hope and work so that steps taken now be just the beginning of normalizing ties. We want to support Biden's trip to Saudi Arabia, which is of importance for the U.S., for Israel and the entire region," he said.
    Jewish American rabbi Marc Schneier, who heads The Foundation for Ethnic Understanding, and is often received by royal palaces in the Gulf, said Suadi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman and his brother Khaled told him that security cooperation with Israel in the face of Iran is important to them.
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    חמד בן עיסא והרב מארק שנייר
    חמד בן עיסא והרב מארק שנייר
    Rabbi Marc Schneier with the Bahraini king
    "But no less important are economic cooperation between Israel and the kingdom," he said.
    "I believe we will see economic ties in the coming months. An economic shift is a priority for the kingdom," he said. "They repeatedly say they could not succeed without Israel and I believe we will see such cooperation, which will lead to a diplomatic breakthrough," he said.
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