First commercial flight due to land in Abu Dhabi from Tel Aviv

The word ‘peace’ is painted on the plane’s cockpit in Arabic, English and Hebrew

The first direct commercial flight from Israel to the United Arab Emirates took off Monday from Ben Gurion International Airport near Tel Aviv, AFP journalists on the ground reported.

Flight 971 of Israel’s national carrier El Al was carrying a joint US-Israeli delegation led on the American side by Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and White House advisor.

It was due to land Monday afternoon in Abu Dhabi, marking the Israel-UAE agreement to normalise ties.

The word “peace” was painted on the plane’s cockpit in Arabic, English and Hebrew, images issued by El Al showed.

The agreement between Israel and the Emirates to normalise ties was announced on August 13, making the UAE the first Gulf country and only the third Arab nation to establish relations with Israel, after Egypt and Jordan.

Israel’s National Security Advisor Meir Ben Shabbat will be the most senior figure aboard the flight on the side of the Jewish state.

The scheduled talks in Abu Dhabi aim at boosting cooperation between the two regional economic powerhouses in areas including aviation, tourism, trade, health, energy and security.

The flight by Israel’s national carrier, numbered 971 like the UAE’s international dialling code, was reported to have received permission to cross Saudi Arabia’s air space.

Officials at El Al and the Israel Airport Authority would not confirm the reports, which would be the first known time El Al crosses Saudi airspace.

The return flight, set to leave Abu Dhabi on Tuesday morning, is numbered 972 – Israel’s international dialling code.

Late Sunday, Israel’s health ministry updated its list of “green countries” with low coronavirus infection rates to include the UAE and eight other countries.

The change meant the Israeli officials and journalists travelling to Abu Dhabi would be exempted from a 14-day quarantine upon return.

Since the agreement between the UAE and Israel was unveiled, there have been phone calls between their ministers, and on Saturday the Emirates in a new milestone repealed a 1972 law boycotting Israel.

“It will be permissible to enter, exchange or possess Israeli goods and products of all kinds in the UAE and trade in them,” read a federal decree issued by UAE President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al-Nahyan.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, speaking alongside Kushner in Jerusalem on Sunday, praised “the swift pace of normalisation” between his country and the UAE.

Noting the UAE’s Saturday move, Netanyahu said it “opens the door” for “unbridled trade, tourism, investments, exchanges between the Middle East’s two most advanced economies”.

As part of the normalisation agreement announced by Trump, Israel agreed to suspend its planned annexations in the occupied West Bank, although Netanyahu quickly insisted the plans remained on the table in the long run.

Arabian Business: why we're going behind a paywall

Source: Read Full Article