Saudi Arabia has agreed to let flights between Israel and the United Arab Emirates through the kingdom's airspace, Saudi state media and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced on Wednesday.

The Saudi Press Agency said the country's civil aviation authority had granted Abu Dhabi's request to allow airliners "coming from and departing to all countries" and bound for or leaving one of the UAE's airports, to fly over Saudi Arabia, which does not officially recognize Israel. This signals Riyadh's acquiescence for a breakthrough U.S.-brokered deal by the United Arab Emirates to normalize relations with Israel.

Netanyahu welcomed the move, calling it "the fruits of a real peace." In a video statement, he added that flying over Saudi airspace will help develop tourism, lower the costs of flights and cut travel time to East Asia.

Despite the Israeli prime minister's statement, it is still unclear whether the Saudi decision would also apply to flights operated by Israeli airlines between Tel Aviv and East Asian destinations. Israeli planes currently have to fly south of the Arabian Peninsula, making the trip about three hours longer.

Saudi Arabia mostly bans flights to and from Israel from using its airspace, though since 2018 it has permitted Air India to fly over the country to Tel Aviv.

Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud said the kingdom's decision to allow flights doesn't change its position on the Palestinian issue. "The kingdom appreciates all efforts towards a lasting, just peace, in accordance with the Arab Peace Initiative," he added in a tweet.

The Palestinians have fiercely opposed normalization as peeling away one of their few advantages in moribund peace talks with Israel. Palestinians have held public protests and burned the UAE flag in anger.
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