If President Donald Trump concludes his first international trip by saying he made history “even while sitting on a plane,” no one can say he’s wrong.
Trump’s Air Force One flight from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia to Tel Aviv, Israel on Monday was reportedly a first for a U.S. president, largely because flights between Saudi Arabia and Israel don’t happen.
Saudi Arabia, like many Muslim-majority nations, doesn’t have formal diplomatic relations with Israel because of its ongoing hostilities with Palestinians. Without formal relations, there aren’t direct flights between the two nations. Israel and Saudi Arabia even take pains to avoid each others’ airspace. The press flight from Riyadh had to make a pit stop in Cyprus.
But, if relations between the two countries aren’t warm, they’re at least no longer frigid. Israel and Saudi Arabia have said they’ve met behind closed doors to talk about Iran, a nation neither of them gets along with. When Trump landed, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sent a tweet acknowledging he hopes someone in his position might make the reverse trip one day.
Speaking of Tel Aviv to Riyadh, at least one U.S. president has made that trip. Flying in 2008, President George W. Bush flew direct from Israel to Saudi Arabia, according to The Washington Post.
Still, Monday’s flight seems to have made a little bit of history.