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Israeli foreign minister flies to UAE over Saudi airspace with Riyadh's permission Open in fullscreen

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Israeli foreign minister flies to UAE over Saudi airspace with Riyadh's permission

Yisrael Katz attended an international climate summit in Abu Dhabi last week. [Getty]

Date of publication: 9 July, 2019

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Israel's Foreign Minister Yisrael Katz flew through Saudi Arabia's airspace while making an official visit to the United Arab Emirates last week, Israeli media reported.

Israel's Foreign Minister Yisrael Katz flew through Saudi Arabia's airspace while making an official visit to the United Arab Emirates last week, Israeli media reported.

Katz attended an international climate summit in Abu Dhabi last week and posed for a photo at the city's grand mosque.

"I am excited to stand here in Abu Dhabi and to represent the interests of the State of Israel before the Arab Gulf states," Katz said, according to local media.

Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth reported that Katz flew on a private aircraft through Saudi airspace with the kingdom's permission.

Read more: Israeli foreign minister visits UAE, hails Gulf relations

Saudi Arabia opened its airspace to commercial flights to and from Israel for the first time in March 2018, with the inauguration of an Air India route between New Delhi and Tel Aviv.

Yedioth Ahronoth reported that in October last year Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Mossad intelligence chief Yossi Cohen also passed through Saudi airspace en route to Oman.

Visits by senior Israeli officials to Gulf states are rare but growing in frequency.

Israel's minister of sport and culture made the first official visit by an Israeli minister to the UAE last year.

Katz' visit to the UAE came shortly after the US-organised economic conference in Bahrain in late June, where the White House revealed plans for $50 billion in investment over 10 years in the occupied Palestinian territories and neighbouring Arab states

The conference was boycotted by the Palestinians, who view US President Donald Trump as blatantly biased in favour of Israel. 

Israel has diplomatic relations with only two Arab countries - Egypt and Jordan - but common concerns over Iran have brought it closer to Gulf nations in recent years.

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