Israel has ‘no objection’ to transfer of major islands to Saudi Arabia

Israel has nono problemto the transfer of two strategic islands in the Red Sea to Saudi Arabia, considered a precondition for a possible normalization process between these two countries, sources familiar with the matter told AFP. US President Joe Biden, who is currently touring the Middle East for the first time, met with Israeli leaders in Jerusalem on Wednesday and Thursday and will make an unprecedented official flight from the Jewish state to Saudi Arabia on Friday.

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Israel and Saudi Arabia could, during Joe Biden’s visit, settle the issue of returning to Riyadh the islets of Tiran and Sanafir, currently owned by Egypt and controlling access to Israel’s port of ‘Eilat. The Egyptian authorities had already given the green light for this transfer, but it also has to be approved by Israel under the 1979 peace agreements between the two countries. However, on the night from Thursday to Friday, a few hours into Joe Biden’s flight, senior officials familiar with the matter told AFP that the Jewish state “had no objectionto the retrocession of these two islets.

Israel had said on Tuesday that it hoped for a “get startednormalization of relations with Saudi Arabia on the occasion of the US President’s visit this weekend to this Arab monarchy of the Gulf and regional power. “President Biden flying direct to Saudi Arabia sums up the dynamics of recent months. There is a delicate, fragile, new relationship, in several ways. We hope (…) that these are the first steps, the beginning, of a process of normalizationA senior Israeli official who requested anonymity told reporters on Tuesday.

Israel, which signed peace treaties with Egypt (1979) and Jordan (1994), normalized its relations in 2020 with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain in particular under the “Abraham chordsand hopes to add Saudi Arabia to that list. Under an Israeli green light for the return of the islets of Tiran and Sanafir, Saudi Arabia could allow Israeli planes to fly over its airspace, or even charter flights between the two countries to allow access to the pilgrimage to Mecca. to the Muslims of Israel, senior officials suggested without confirming these measures.

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