4 Sep 2020
Bahrain has said all flights to and from the United Arab Emirates can cross its airspace, a move that will allow air services between Israel and the UAE to fly over the kingdom.
Thursday’s decision, which the kingdom’s aviation authority said came at the request of the UAE, follows an agreement last month that saw the UAE becoming the third Arab country to reach a deal with Israel about normalising ties.
The US-brokered agreement, which capped years of discreet contact between the two countries in commerce and technology, was denounced by the Palestinians as a betrayal of their cause by a major Arab player, while they still lack a state of their own.
“Bahrain will allow all flights coming to and departing from the United Arab Emirates to all countries to cross its airspace,” reported the official Bahrain News Agency, citing an official source at the Ministry of Transportation and Telecommunications.
The decision cuts flying time between the Middle East states by several hours.
Bahrain, which hosts the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet and a British naval base, has an historic Jewish community. The kingdom has slowly encouraged ties to Israel, with two US-based rabbis in 2017 saying King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa himself promoted the idea of ending the boycott of Israel by Arab nations.
Saudi Arabia agreed Wednesday to permit UAE flights to “all countries” to overfly the kingdom, as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu signalled more direct flights linking the United Arab Emirates with the Jewish state.