Senior US and Israeli officials will fly from Tel Aviv to Abu Dhabi in a symbolic and substantive demonstration of improved ties.
Rabat – The first commercial flight between Israel and the UAE will take to the air next week, US officials announced Tuesday. The Israel-UAE flight is a symbolic demonstration of improved relations since the August 13 agreement to normalize relations between the two countries.
The flight, most likely an Israeli El-Al aircraft emblazoned with Israel’s national colors of blue and white and the Star of David, will carry American and Israeli delegations to Abu Dhabi. It will be the first known direct trip by the Israeli airline to a Gulf Arab country.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said this inaugural flight and subsequent talks will “advance peace and normalization” between Israel and the UAE. He said the discussions will focus on flights and tourism, trade, business, energy, security, and health, including the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This is a historic agreement,” Netanyahu said. “It will spur growth. It will help bring general economic growth, especially during the coronavirus era. I hope that other countries in our region will join the circle of peace.”
President Donald Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner will head the US delegation onboard the Israel-UAE flight. The delegation includes national security adviser Robert O’Brien, Kushner’s adviser and assistant to the president Avi Berkowitz, and envoy for Iran Brian Hook, according to US officials.
Meanwhile, Israel’s national security adviser, Meir Ben-Shabbat, will lead Israel’s delegation on the flight to the UAE. Netanyahu announced that the Israeli delegation will also include representatives from a number of Israeli government ministries, including the directors of the foreign and defense ministries and the Israel Aviation Authority.
US officials said the flight and the subsequent meetings between Israeli and UAE officials would be a centerpiece of Kushner’s trip to the Middle East. Kushner’s team also reportedly plans to visit Bahrain, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar.