Newspaper: Israeli tourists may soon enjoy recreation on the Saudi islands of Tiran and Sanafir

Newspaper: Israeli tourists may soon enjoy recreation on the Saudi islands of Tiran and Sanafir
Newspaper: Israeli tourists may soon enjoy recreation on the Saudi islands of Tiran and Sanafir
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Saudi Arabia plans to turn the Red Sea islands of Tiran and Sanafir into tourist destinations by building hotels and casinos open to Israeli tourists. But will Israeli passport holders soon be able to enjoy the latest tourism projects in Saudi Arabia?

Informed sources confirmed to the Israeli economic newspaper Globes that Saudi Arabia will allow Israelis to spend holidays in the islands of Tiran and Sanafir in the Red Sea, which are the islands it bought from Egypt in 2016. Saudi Arabia plans to build a bridge linking the islands with Egypt.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman seeks to develop his country and open it to the world, including huge tourism projects along the Red Sea coast all the way to the Gulf of Eilat. The Saudis also want to turn the islands of Tiran and Sanafir into tourist destinations.

The deal, which included the agreement to demarcate the maritime borders between Cairo and Riyadh, was signed in 2016 despite the opposition of some parties in Egypt. Israel returned Tiran and Sanafir to Egypt as part of the peace agreement, and some considered the islands sacred Egyptian land. Even Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi delayed completing the deal, even though the Supreme Constitutional Court in Egypt rejected petitions against it. Israel, for its part, demanded that the transfer not be Ownership of the islands is in contravention of the peace agreement with Egypt, which provided for the deployment of a multinational force led by the United States on the two islands.

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Israel also fears that the deal will lead to Saudi control of the exit from the Gulf of Eilat and hopes to ensure that Israeli maritime traffic on trade routes will not be affected. This issue arose in discussions between the countries participating in the deal, including during US President Joe Biden’s visit to the region. last summer. The islands of Tiran and Sanafir are about 4 kilometers apart in the waters of the Red Sea, and control the entrance to the Gulf of Aqaba, the Jordanian port of Aqaba, and the Israeli Eilat. And after the re-election of Benjamin Netanyahu as prime minister late last year, there have been renewed talks between the two sides about the benefits that will accrue to Israeli tourists.

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Some believe that there are some goals behind all this, namely: First, Egypt will have veto power over what happens at the island level. Secondly, preserving the peace agreement and giving the Israelis a chance to spend their holidays on the islands. Holders of Israeli passports entering Egypt from Taba airport or Sharm el-Sheikh will be able to spend time in hotels and casinos run by Saudi companies on the islands.

But what about the final peace with Saudi Arabia?

Well-informed political sources told Globes that opening the islands of Tiran and Sanafir to Israeli tourists indicates Saudi Arabia’s desire to step up rapprochement with Israel. However, this vision will be realized gradually and in ways that have no far-reaching political significance. The sources say, “It will be a slow pace, with more additional steps that will bring the two countries closer together, but the real “breakthrough” has not happened yet. Things need to calm down a bit, and we will see what the Netanyahu government will do in the coming days, but in the end It should be noted that it is in the interest of all countries involved to reach full agreement.

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