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Netanyahu cancelled visit to UAE, fearing Houthi missiles

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Ben Gurion Airport near Tel Aviv, on December 9, 2020 [ABIR SULTAN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images]
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at Ben Gurion Airport near Tel Aviv, on December 9, 2020 [ABIR SULTAN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images]

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has revealed that he called off his first official visit to the UAE last week over fears of missiles fired from the Houthi-supported Yemeni armed forces, Israel's Channel 13 has reported. He was due to fly through Saudi Arabian airspace, but on Saturday Netanyahu said that "there were also problems a week ago in the skies of Saudi Arabia" in reference to recent retaliatory attacks by the Houthis.

The alternative route would have taken Netanyahu through Jordanian airspace, but that was closed to him temporarily due to a dispute between Tel Aviv and Amman. The Israeli leader is reported to have made attempts to stop flights from Amman using Israeli airspace. Moreover, Jordan's Crown Prince Hussein Bin Abdullah cancelled a planned visit to Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem after disagreements about security details.

READ: Israel army recommends toning down maritime tension with Iran

Earlier this month, the spokesperson for the Houthi-aligned Yemeni army, Brigadier General Yahya Saree, claimed that missiles and drones were used to strike an oil facility in the Saudi city of Jeddah and the King Khalid Air Base in the south-west city of Khamis Mushait. This was followed by last week's attack on Saudi Aramco's Ras Tanura port, the world's biggest offshore oil loading facility, prompting the US to express alarm at the frequency of the attacks.

Today, Saree also announced that the air force carried out drone attacks against Abha International Airport and the King Khalid Air Base again. These, he added, "were within the framework of our natural and legitimate right to respond to the crimes of aggression and [Saudi Arabia's] continued siege of our country."

READ: US: We've offered Houthis a plan for a Yemen ceasefire

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