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July 21, 2013 6:53 pm

Saudi Airlines Blames Lack of Diplomatic Relations for Barring Israelis From Flights

avatar by Zach Pontz

A Saudi Airbus 320 in 2010. Photo: Wikipedia.

Saudi Arabian Airlines Director General Khalid Abdullah Almolhem said that the state-owned company’s anti-Israeli passenger policy is due to the lack of diplomatic relations between the two countries. The statement follows controversy that emerged last week over the practice.

“If there is an absence of political relations between [Saudi Arabia] and any other country, we will not allow that country’s citizens into the kingdom,” Melhem told Saudi’s Al-Watan newspaper, in a report published on Saturday.

“[Diplomatic relations] also apply to transit passengers… in case the plane is delayed, the passenger will have to enter the country; and at that point, it would be very difficult to let him into [Saudi] if there are no diplomatic relations.”

Last week, New York City Public Advocate Bill De Blasio revealed that a probe into the airline uncovered its anti-Israel policy on flights out of New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport. De Blasio said that he sent a letter urging Abdullah Almolhem to change the policy – which is illegal under both state and federal law – or else face consequences.

De Blasio said if  the airline does not change their policy, “we will act to make sure they’re excluded from United States airports, starting with JFK.”

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