19:52 GMT19 June 2021
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    Saudi Arabia does not recognize the Israeli state and so far has not allowed flights in and out of Israel to pass over its airspace as a policy. An exception has been made for Air India to operate a flight three times a week to Tel Aviv from New Delhi.

    New Delhi (Sputnik) — The world recorded a momentous first on Friday when an Air India flight traversed Saudi Arabian airspace before landing in the Israeli capital Tel Aviv. The development was hailed as a diplomatic victory for India as it was the first time Saudi Arabia had ever granted permission to any foreign aircraft to use its airspace on its way to Israel.

    "This is really a historical moment. We are in a new era. I am sure that we will see many more Indian tourists coming to Israel, and Israelis would also come to India in much higher numbers," said Israeli Tourism Minister Yariv Levin, speaking to Indian news agency Press Trust of India on the occasion. 

    Other direct flights from India to Israel take a much longer route bypassing Saudi airspace and hence take at least two hours longer.

    Indian minister for civil aviation, Suresh Prabhu tweeted it is a victory for Prime Minister Narendra Modi's foreign policy.

    A top Indian journalist and a few other netizens hailed it as an indication of a thaw in Saudi-Israeli relations.

    Renowned Jewish human rights activist Michael Dickson too expressed his happiness over the development.

    Indians saw it as a victory of the country's global political initiatives.


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    bilateral cooperation, diplomatic mission, flight, historic, Air India, India, Israel
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