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Oman is following its Gulf neighbors to open airspace to Israeli airlines


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Oman followed the examples given by some of its Gulf and Arab neighbors to open its airspace to Israeli airlines on Thursday.

In an official announcement, the Gulf state said all airlines may fly over its territory from Thursday.

Israeli leaders hailed the announcement as a win for civil aviation to Asia and Australia — not any harbinger of a breakthrough in bilateral diplomacy with Muscat.

“Another wonderful step towards regional integration… This is definitely a day of celebration for Israel,” Foreign Minister Eli Cohen wrote on Twitter.

Israel hopes Oman will join the US-brokered Abraham Accords under which Israel established or upgraded its relations with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco in 2020.

While Saudi Arabia stays out of the accords, the regional power has signaled tacit support by allowing Israeli airlines to fly over it en route to Abu Dhabi, Dubai or Manama.

In July, US President Joe Biden announced that Riyadh would allow Israeli overflights without restrictions. But the implementation was pending, pending the approval of Oman, as the Saudi corridor extends over its lands on the eastern roads.

“This historic move continues a process that began last year during President Biden’s visit to the Middle East,” a White House National Security Council spokesman said.

“For the first time in history, travelers to and from Israel will now be able to travel on direct routes between Israel and Asia and points in between.”

The Omani Civil Aviation Authority said on Twitter, “Imposing international and local requirements against discrimination in dealing with civil aircraft. The Civil Aviation Authority confirms that the Sultanate’s airspace is open to all airlines that meet the requirements for flying.”

Cohen said the corridor would shorten the journey time between Israel and Asia by more than two hours. The flag carrier, Israel Airlines, said it would consider opening new routes to Australia and resuming flights to India.

Amman has hosted Israeli leaders over the years. But, like Riyadh, Muscat has said any normalization of relations with Israel requires progress in the long-stalled campaign for Palestinian statehood.

“For the Abraham Accords to succeed, they must include the Palestinian voice, which was not present in these accords,” Omani Foreign Minister Badr al-Busaidi told the daily Le Figaro in May, the text of which was posted on his website.

Economic peace alone will not work.

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