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Donald Trump

Trump’s direct flight from Saudi Arabia to Israel thought to be first ever

There are no direct flights between the two countries and flights from either country bypass the other’s airspace

PUBLISHED : Monday, 22 May, 2017, 8:27pm
UPDATED : Monday, 22 May, 2017, 8:27pm

US President Donald Trump was said to have blazed a new trail between the Arab world and Israel Monday, with his plane believed to be the first to fly directly from Saudi Arabia to the Jewish state.

Trump left Riyadh for Tel Aviv ahead of talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in hopes of seeking ways to achieve Israeli-Palestinian peace.

A spokesperson for the Civil Aviation Authority of Israel said he was not aware of any flight taking that course before.

Israel has no diplomatic relations with Saudi Arabia despite informal ties on certain levels, particularly around shared concerns over Iran.

Any links are diplomatically delicate, with the Arab world strong supporters of the Palestinian cause. Egypt and Jordan are the only two Arab countries to have signed peace deals with Israel.

Israeli citizens, however, can travel to Saudi Arabia and thousands of Muslims attend the annual hajj pilgrimage there, flying with stopovers in neighbouring countries.

A plane carrying reporters accompanying Trump had to stop in Cyprus rather than fly directly.

Former aviation authority head Avner Yarkoni said that while Israel would see no problem in a direct flight from Saudi Arabia, there was no reason Trump’s precedent would open the way for a new route between Israel and the Gulf region.