The Lebanese Hezbollah resistance movement has denounced Saudi Arabia’s decision to open its airspace to all flights to and from the Israeli-occupied territories.
The decision is “a grave insult” to all Muslims worldwide and seen as a provocative act against all of them, Sheikh Nabil Qaouk, a member and deputy head of the executive council of Hezbollah, said at a ceremony in southern Lebanon on Saturday.
“When Saudi Arabia cooperates with Israel in terms of security and military, it doubtlessly becomes a partner in the Tel Aviv regime’s acts of aggression against Syria, Lebanon and Palestine, which is enough to betray the entire Islamic community,” he noted.
“Thanks to the presence of Hezbollah, Lebanon has turned into a source of pride and might for all Arabs and the Arab world. The resistance movement effectively safeguards Lebanon's sovereignty, dignity and natural wealth. We neither do count on US pledges of financial aids nor Arab summits,” the senior Hezbollah official pointed out.
On Friday, Saudi Arabia, in an apparent gesture of openness towards Israel, announced that it was lifting restrictions on “all carriers” using its airspace, and the step came amid indications that US President Joe Biden was pushing for normalization of relations between the oil-rich kingdom and the Tel Aviv regime during his visit to the Middle East.
The Saudi General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) said in a statement on its Twitter page that the country's airspace was open to all carriers that meet its requirements for over flights, in line with international conventions that say there should be no discrimination between civil aircraft.
The decision was made “to complement the kingdom's efforts aimed at consolidating its position as a global hub connecting three continents,” the statement added.
The move was welcomed by the 79-year-old US president, who was scheduled to land in Saudi Arabia for a controversial visit.
“This decision is the result of the President's persistent and principled diplomacy with Saudi Arabia over many months, culminating in his visit today,” US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said in a statement.
Biden met Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman and other regional leaders during the high-profile visit.
Saudi Arabia did not show any opposition when the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco in 2020 became the first Arab countries in decades to normalize relations with Israel in a deal brokered by former US President Donald Trump.
The oil-rich kingdom is yet to jump on the bandwagon, but the two sides have seen growing contacts and de-facto rapprochement in recent years, despite claims that it is committed to the 2002 so-called Arab Peace Initiative, which conditions normalizing ties with Israel on the establishment of an independent, sovereign Palestinian state within the 1967 borders.
The Riyadh regime in November 2020 granted permission for Israeli airlines to use its airspace, hours before the first Israeli flight to the UAE was set to take off.
Palestinian leaders, activists and ordinary people have repeatedly rejected Arab-Israeli normalization deals as “a stab in the back of the Palestinian cause and the Palestinian people.”