Israel Seeking Saudi Flight Deal to Bring Muslim Pilgrims to Mecca

(Bloomberg) Jonathan Ferziger and Yaacov Benmeleh - Israel is trying to persuade Saudi Arabia to allow it to send special Hajj pilgrimage flights to Mecca, building on U.S. efforts to strengthen cooperation between the two nations. Instead of enduring a 1,000-mile bus route across Jordan and through the Saudi desert, Israel hopes its Muslim citizens will be able to fly directly from Tel Aviv's Ben-Gurion International Airport, Communications Minister Ayoob Kara said. While 6,000 Israeli Arabs make the Hajj journey every year, only a few hundred are allowed to fly to Saudi Arabia from Jordan. An increasing number of Israeli companies in the fields of cyber-defense, agricultural technology and desalination have been doing business in Saudi Arabia and its Gulf neighbors, mostly through subsidiaries that mask their origins, Israeli officials say. Israel is also interested in receiving overflight permission from Saudi Arabia on flights to Asia by Israeli air carriers, saving them time and money. Kara says Israel's ties with the broader Arab world can't forever be held hostage to the Palestinian issue.

2017-07-14 00:00:00

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