Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has boasted that Arab countries are falling in line and submitting to Israel’s financial and technological superiority. Claiming that Oman had allowed Israeli planes overfly rights, Netanyahu said that he was working on getting Saudi Arabia’s permission to fly Israeli planes over its airspace.
“When I was in Oman, Sultan Qaboos [Bin Said] confirmed to me right away that El Al can fly over Oman,” the prime minister told Israeli diplomats in Jerusalem today. “Therefore, only one small thing remains for us to do,” he added, point to Saudi Arabia on a map. Without similar permission from the Saudis, Muscat’s promise is worthless, as sultanate borders on states with no diplomatic ties to Israel.
Netanyahu however seemed confident that the Saudi’s will also cave to Israeli pressure and allow Israeli planes to fly over the country’s airspace. In May Riyadh granted permission to Air India to fly to Tel Aviv over the Kingdom’s airspace. Israel’s Minister of Transportation viewed the decision as a signal that the Saudi’s were ready to allow Israeli airlines to use its airspace soon.
Speaking in his capacity as Israel’s foreign minister, a post he has undertaken following the resignation of former defence minister Avigdor Lieberman, Netanyahu indicated that Israel may soon be allowed to fly over Sudan, which currently has no diplomatic ties with Israel.
“Currently we can fly over Egypt, Chad, and probably we can fly over Sudan, and there we can fly directly to Brazil, which would save about two hours,” he said.
“We are flying with Air India every day across Saudi Arabia, and soon we’re going to fly to Mumbai,” he said. “Tel Aviv-Mumbai is fewer hours than Tel Aviv-London,” he continued.
Israeli sources reported on Saturday that Netanyahu was seeking to formalise and publicise relations with Saudi Arabia before the next Israeli general election, scheduled for November 2019, but it may be held earlier with the current government struggling to hold a majority in parliament since the resignation of Lieberman.
Netanyahu said that the groundwork for normalising relations with neighbouring countries was being put in place. He explained that this was underway without Israel having to concede anything to the Arabs.
Netanyahu, according to the Israeli Times explained that previous leaders had attempted to strengthen Israel’s international standing with “dangerous concessions, including uprooting communities,” referring to the 2005 disengagement plan by former prime minister Ariel Sharon, in which all settlements in the Gaza Strip were dismantled.
“That hasn’t happened — and won’t happen — with me,” Netanyahu said. “We believe in peace out of strength; we believe in alliances born out of Israel’s value as a technological, financial, defence, and intelligence powerhouse,” he added. “That’s what we will continue doing, and that’s also how we’ll achieve peace.”