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Netanyahu says peace deals ‘changing the map’ of Mideast

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Saturday that a trio of normalisation accords with Arab states offered an end to the Jewish state’s former geographic isolation, with shorter and cheaper flights.

“We are changing the map of the Middle East,” he told a televised press conference in Hebrew, pointing to a whiteboard with diagrams of flight corridors.

Air travel over Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates would save passengers heading for India and other Asian destinations “hours and a lot of money of course,” he said.

Israel struck landmark agreements last month with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, and on Friday, agreed with Sudan to normalise relations in a US-brokered deal.

“There will be more countries,” Netanyahu said.

Saudi Arabia still has no formal ties with the Jewish state, but now allows flights in its air space.

The Sudan rapprochement, Netanyahu said, would open up benefits for Israelis crossing the Atlantic.

“We now fly westward, over Sudan, according to agreements we made even before we announced normalisation, (and) over Chad, with which we also established relations, to Brazil and South America,” he said.

“Israel was completely isolated…Israel is now connecting to the whole world,” he added.