Bilateral relations and trade between Israel and Nigeria will increase with the start of direct flights between the two countries from March, according to Israeli authorities.

Deputy Director General of the Africa Department of the Israeli Foreign Ministry, Ms. Sharon Bar-Li, said this while meeting some Nigerian journalists on a media tour to Jerusalem on Wednesday.

Bar-Li said the direct flights would further cement relations between Africa and the Middle East.

“Once we can inaugurate direct flights between Nigeria and Israel, we will see a boost because right now, there is no gateway for Israel in Africa.

“As a former ambassador to Ghana, I can tell you that it is very difficult once you don’t have a direct flight. Once this route goes live, we’re going to see a big change.

“We are going to see flourishing businesses; people will be able to get in and out easily. We will see a pilgrimage,” she said.

The CEO said that Nigeria was a very religious country and citizens, both Christians and Muslims, went to Israel on pilgrimage.

“Do not forget that Jerusalem is a holy place for free religions, not only for Christianity, not only for Judaism, but also for Islam, where people come to ride to do a little hajj.

“By March, I really hope to be able to welcome to Israel the Minister who will come on the first flight to inaugurate this route. It will be a very profitable route and with a great demand for it.

“The enthusiasm to open this new route bodes well for the post-COVID-19 recovery,” Bar-Li said.

He said that the operation of a direct flight between Israel and Nigeria would break all trade barriers, lamenting the minimal trade between the two countries that had been low in recent years.

“Trade is very minimal and I hope that with this direct flight we will have no more excuses,” he added.