Bahrain yesterday announced it will allow Israeli planes to use its airspace to and from the UAE, following Saudi Arabia’s decision on Wednesday to allow similar flights, both moves were reportedly at the request of the UAE, which has already received the first direct flight from Tel Aviv since the two countries normalised relations. US presidential adviser, Jared Kushner, was on the commercial flight as he toured the region to push other Arab states to normalise ties with Israel.
Although Israel was not named explicitly, Bahrain’s Transport Ministry stated it would allow all flights to the UAE across its airspace. It is understood that in allowing Israel to use its airspace, flights between Tel Aviv and the Emirates will cut the flying time by several hours.
However the Times of Israel explains that the route over Bahrain would only take place if flights were allowed over Qatar, which currently has not expressed a willingness to normalise ties with Israel but remains committed to the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative that offers recognition of Israel after the realisation of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital and a return to the pre-1967 borders.
Bahrain, which earlier this year said that Israel has a right to defend itself, along with Saudi Arabia does not presently have diplomatic ties with Israel and has recently declared its opposition to normalisation without Palestinian statehood.
In spite of this, reports from yesterday suggest Bahrain is next on the list of Gulf Arab states to recognise Israel. According to Israel broadcaster Kan, Bahrain is expected to follow the UAE once Israel and the Emirates have signed their peace accord in Washington DC at the end of this month.