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Is Trump’s flight from Saudi Arabia to Israel a first?

President Trump and his wife, Melania, boarded Air Force One in preparation for a flight from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, to Tel Aviv.Evan Vucci/Associated Press

JERUSALEM — Even before President Trump officially began his trip to Israel, he may have made history.

The president’s flight from Riyadh to Tel Aviv on Monday was believed to be the first direct flight between Saudi Arabia and Israel.

The president landed at Ben Gurion International Airport for a two-day visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories as part of his first trip abroad since taking office.

An Israel Airport Authority spokesman said he was not aware of any direct flights ever having landed in Israel from the kingdom.

Saudi Arabia doesn’t recognize Israel, and the two states don’t have diplomatic relations. There are no direct flights between the two countries, and flights from either country bypass the other’s airspace.


While neither country is in a position to dictate to Trump where to fly, his arrival nonetheless reflects the warming relationship between them. The two countries have reportedly developed covert ties based on their shared concerns over Iran’s growing regional influence. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu frequently boasts of his behind-the-scenes cooperation with moderate Sunni countries that are believed to include Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states.

The only direct flights from Israel to Arab states are to Egypt and Jordan, both of which signed peace treaties with Israel.