The Israeli Foreign Minister has submitted a request to the Saudi authorities to permit direct Hajj charters from Israel during the 2023 pilgrimage, with the issue now under discussion.

Eli Cohen told Israel's Galei Tzahal/Army Radio that so far, no decisions have been made, but he remains optimistic about "making peace with Saudi Arabia". He did not elaborate on whether the flights would be operated by El Al Israel Airlines or Saudia. In most countries, only flag carriers are designated for Hajj charters.

The two countries do not have formal diplomatic relations but have been growing closer over the last months. Despite not joining the 2020 Abraham Accords recognising Israel, Saudi Arabia has permitted all carriers flying to and from the country - including Israeli ones - to transit its airspace.

Currently, Israeli Muslims have to fly for Hajj from airports abroad. Israel has been seeking approval for direct flights for years and reportedly came close to obtaining it for the 2022 Hajj.