Daily US Times: The first commercial flight from Israel to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has landed, marking a major step in normalising relations between the two countries after the announcement of a peace deal.
The El Al airliner made the three-hour trip, carrying a delegation of US and Israeli officials.
Saudi Arabian gave access to it’s airspace for the flight which is normally blocked to Israeli air traffic.
The UAE has become only the third Arab country in the Middle East to recognise Israel since its founding in 1948.
On Saturday the UAE repealed a law boycotting Israel which had been in place since 1972, the two countries opened direct telephone services for the first time earlier this month.
The agreement to normalise relations – brokered by the United States – was made public in a surprise announcement on 13 August.
Flight LY971 – numbered to represent the UAE’s international dialling code – carried delegates including Israel’s National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat and Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner.
Mr Kushner led secret talks which resulted in the UAE-Israel agreement.
Mr Kushner described the deal between the countries as a “historic breakthrough” while speaking to the media after landing in Abu Dhabi and said it was a “tremendous honour” to have joined the flight.
He said: “What happened here was three great leaders came together and they started writing a newscript for the Middle East. They said the future doesn’t have to be predetermined by the past.”
The joint teams will meet Emirati representatives to develop areas of co-operation between the UAE and Israel. The return flight will be numbered LY972, after Israel’s international dialling code.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hailed the advent of the flight as an example of “peace for peace” in a tweet in Hebrew – alluding to his long-held disbelief in the notion that only trading occupied land will bring peace between Israel and Arab countries.
The peace negotiation is welcomed by much of the international community, the Palestinians denounced UAE’s recognition of Israel and considered it as a betrayal of their cause and the deal happened without the precondition of the creation of a Palestinian state.
Mr Netanyahu agreed to suspend controversial plans to annex parts of the occupied West Bank in return for official relations with the UAE. Netanyahu’s pre-planned annexation land claimed by the Palestinians for a future state of their own.