Israel and the US are asking Saudi Arabia to carry out series of steps towards full normalisation between Riyadh and Tel Aviv, Israeli media reported on Sunday. The context is Saudi Arabia’s need for Israel’s permission to change the sovereignty of the Red Sea islands of Tiran and Sanafir, over which the US is currently brokering the final steps for them to be transferred from Egypt to the Kingdom.
According to the terms of the 1979 Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty, the transfer of the Egyptian islands to Saudi control requires Israeli agreement, explained the Times of Israel. Axios news website said that Riyadh is being pushed by Tel Aviv and Washington towards full normalisation with the occupation state.
Among the proposed steps, it is reported, are allowing Israel to use Saudi airspace for all flights, not just those heading to Gulf countries, and direct flights between Israel and Saudi Arabia for Muslim pilgrims going to Makkah and Madinah.
“We believe that it is possible to have a normalisation process with Saudi Arabia,” said Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid. “It’s in our interest.” Israeli Army Radio reported Lapid as adding: “We have already said that this is the next step after the Abraham Accords, to talk about a long and careful process. We are working with the US and the Gulf states on this.”
The Israeli minister warned that the process of normalisation with Saudi Arabia would be a lengthy one with progress coming in small steps, as both countries have security interests at stake.
“This will not happen the same way it did last time,” said Lapid, referring to the Abraham Accords. “We will not wake up one morning suddenly and it will be a surprise. It could be that three foreign ministers after me, someone will be standing on the podium and will celebrate this, which is completely fine; this is how one runs a state.”