KSA normalization with 'Israel' downplayed, no direct flights
The Israeli minister of Transporation describes the prospect of normalization with Saudi Arabia as "elusive".
Israeli media reported that there will be no direct flights transporting Hajj pilgrims from "Israel" [occupied Palestine] to Saudi Arabia, which inauspiciously frames the prospect of normalization between the two countries.
"Despite the efforts that have been made, there are no direct flights between Israel and Saudi Arabia to transport pilgrims to Mecca," Israeli channel Kan reported.
The Israeli Ministry of Transportation announced that airlines would not submit requests to operate flights to Saudi destinations with the approaching date of Hajj rituals in Mecca. A senior assistant to the occupation Prime Minister also confirmed that there will be no immediate flights to Saudi Arabia.
"We may be in a position to help with this matter, in the next Hajj season, to organize direct flights from here, but it's too early to tell," Israeli National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi told the Israeli public broadcaster Radio Kan.
In an interview earlier this week, the minister described the prospect of normalization with Saudi Arabia as "elusive" such that it is conditioned on the future of the Saudi-American relations which are currently tense.
An informed source told Reuters that Saudi Arabia is setting normalization with "Israel" as a trade-off for Washinton's endorsement of their civil nuclear program, which "Israel" is uneasy about.
Earlier this week, The New York Times reported that the US has doubts that an Israeli-Saudi normalization agreement is possible but has chosen to step up efforts to achieve one nevertheless.
The newspaper highlighted US President Joe Biden's administration's increasing attempts to mediate an agreement in recent months, with Washington holding frequent meetings with both sides, as Secretary of State Antony Blinken and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan are heavily active in the process.
The Times revealed that US Mideast envoy Brett McGurk led this week a mission to the region to discuss the issue and that following his visit to Riyadh earlier this month, Blinken held a 40-minute phone conversation with Israeli occupation Prime Miniter Benjamin Netanyahu about the "Saudis' requirements" for an agreement.
The report mentioned that some American officials believe the prospects of an agreement are fewer than 50%.
Nonetheless, the newspaper quoted Martin Indyk, former US envoy to "Israel", as saying that "Biden has decided to go for it, and everyone in the administration now understands that the president wants this."
It reminded that Saudi Arabia has requested that the United States assist it with civilian uranium enrichment, as per officials. Two sources told The Times that other requests by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman include US promises to defend the country in case of an attack and the lifting of some restrictions on military sales to Riyadh.