(BLOOMBERG) — Israel is trying to persuade Saudi Arabia to allow it to send special Hajj pilgrimage flights to Mecca, building on Trump administration efforts to strengthen cooperation between the two nations.
Instead of enduring the 1,000-mile bus route across the Jordan River and through the Saudi desert to reach Islam’s most sacred shrine, Israel hopes its Muslim citizens will be able to fly directly into the kingdom from Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion International Airport, Communications Minister Ayoob Kara said. Just two months ago, Trump broke a longstanding taboo by flying between the two nations, which do not have formal diplomatic relations or airline links but have drawn closer in recent years due to a shared enemy, Iran.
“Reality has changed,” Kara said in an interview this week at his office in Jerusalem. “This is a good time to make the request, and I’m working hard on it.”