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Saudi Arabian Airlines not discriminating against Israelis, director general says

JERUSALEM (JTA) — 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, Khalid 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. “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.”

New York City Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, a mayoral candidate, last week condemned the Saudi airline’s decision not to accept Israelis passengers, calling it “racial discrimination.”

A sting operation by de Blasio’s staff uncovered that the airline will not book Israeli passengers.

De Blasio warned that he would work to ensure the Saudi airline does not land in American airports if it does not change its policy.

“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,” he said. “It’s not only illegal; it’s an affront to who we are.”

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