Historical first: Palestinian pilgrims set to fly from Israel to Saudi Arabia


Following Air Force One being the first plane to fly directly from Riyadh to Ben Gurion Airport, President Donald Trump’s team initiated talks for flights intended for Muslims wishing to visit Saudi religious sites in Mecca and Medina.

By Itamar Eichner


The United States, the Palestinian Authority, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Israel have recently been conducting secret negotiations to coordinate the first flight of Palestinian pilgrims from Ben Gurion airport to Saudi Arabia, with a short layover on the way, probably in Jordan.

Yedioth Ahronoth, Ynet’s sister print publication, learned of the intention to organize a special plane in which only Palestinian passengers between Israel and Saudi Arabia will be able to fly. Since there are no open relations between the two countries, the plane will have to land briefly in Amman. The Americans initiated the matter as a result of President Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia and Israel.

Making History: President Trump flies directly from Riyadh to Ben Gurion Airport, Israel on May 22, 2017 – Israel’s PMO

A senior Israeli source said the talks are already in advanced stages. He said the flight would be carried out through a foreign company that is neither Israeli nor Saudi. The Palestinians will be able to make pilgrimages to the holy places in Mecca and Medina. This is the closest to a direct flight that has yet to be offered.

Air Force One was actually the first plane to fly directly from Riyadh to Ben Gurion Airport, when President Donald Trump came on his first foreign trip.

Minister of Transport Yisrael Katz presented Trump’s, Jason Greenblatt, his “railroad for regional peace” plan. The plan speaks of connecting Israel to Jordan and from it to Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states in a network of railways that would give the Arab states access to the Mediterranean. Greenblatt was reportedly enthusiastic about the program.


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