The director general of Saudi Arabian Airlines told an Arabic newspaper that the airline does not discriminate against Israelis, but cannot accept passengers not permitted entry to the country.
In an interview Friday with the Al-Watan Arabic daily, Khaled Al-Molhem pointed out that there is no diplomatic relationship between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Israel.
“Diplomatic relations and political exchange are basic requirements for a person to enter a country,” he said, further explaining that: “We cannot accept a passenger if his country does not have political relations with Saudi Arabia because it would be impossible for him to enter the country. This applies even to transit passengers because if there is a delay in the arrival of his flight he has to enter the country but it would be difficult for him because of a lack of political exchange.”
New York Public Advocate Bill de Blasio last week condemned the Saudi airline’s decision not to accept Israelis passengers, calling it “racial discrimination.” De Blasio, who has announced his candidacy for Mayor of New York, also warned that he would work to ensure the Saudi airline does not land in American airports.
It was discovered that the airline will not book Israeli passengers after a sting operation by de Blasio’s staff.
“No city in the world has closer ties to Israel than we do, and yet Israeli citizens are being discriminated against right here at JFK airport. It’s not only illegal; it’s an affront to who we are,” De Blasio said. He added that he “will act to make sure they’re excluded from United States airports, starting with JFK” if the airline does not change its policy.