Oman has taken an important step towards a rapprochement with Israel. Although still without diplomatic relations between the two countries, Muscat has announced its decision to open its airspace to "all airlines", including Israeli airlines. The statement issued by the Omani Civil Aviation Authority confirms that "the Sultanate's airspace is open to all airlines that meet the overflight requirements", in what it says is "part of Oman's continuing efforts to fulfil its obligations under the 1944 Chicago Convention, which stipulates non-discrimination between civil aircraft used in international air navigation".
Although Israel is not directly mentioned in the announcement, it is a step forward in their relations. Until now, Israeli airlines have not been authorised by Oman to use its airspace. Oman had applauded the decision of other Arab countries to normalise relations with Tel Aviv, but Oman has not yet done so.
Saudi Arabia issued a similar communiqué in July last year announcing the same decision that Oman has announced today. Then, as now, Israel welcomed the Saudis' decision. On this occasion, Eli Cohen, Israel's Foreign Minister, called it "a historic decision that will shorten the road to Asia, reduce costs for Israeli citizens and help Israeli airlines to be more competitive". He also thanked Omani Sultan Haitham bin Tareq and the US government "for their substantial assistance in the success of the measure".
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also stressed that this was "excellent news", saying that his country "is becoming an important transit point between Asia and Europe". The similarity of the steps being taken by Saudi Arabia and Oman invites optimism. Neither has established diplomatic relations, but both have increased contacts with Tel Aviv in recent years, which Tel Aviv hopes to translate into future bilateral agreements.
The most important precedent, the Abraham Accords signed in 2020 thanks to the mediation of a United States then presided over by Donald Trump, set the path for what Israel wants to do with the rest of the Arab countries. The United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, thanks to the so-called "agreement of the century", established relations with Israel, as did Morocco, a country with which the Jews enjoy excellent relations. Since then, Tel Aviv and Rabat have accumulated a significant number of agreements that strengthen their relations.
Thus, albeit slowly, Israel continues to make progress in normalising its relations with Arab countries. This decision by Oman, without being decisive, shows that ties are increasingly close and that the intention of both countries is to continue fostering a rapprochement that, if everything follows the road map drawn up from Israeli territory, will lead to the normalisation of relations with the Omanis.