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World

‘Historic’ flight from Israel to UAE touches down in Abu Dhabi

Jerusalem/Dubai / The first-ever Israeli commercial flight to the United Arab Emirates landed in Abu Dhabi on Monday, a historic gesture that comes as part of a United States-brokered deal to normalize relations between the two countries.

Jared Kushner, White House advisor and son-in-law of US president Donald Trump, met with Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu over the weekend.

Before the El Al-operated Boeing 737 took off from Tel Aviv, Kushner told reporters: “This is a historic flight, we hope that this will start an even more historic journey for the Middle East and beyond.”

The word “peace” was emblazoned on the side of the aircraft in English, Hebrew and Arabic.

Kushner said he hoped that Muslims and Arabs around the world had been watching the occasion.

The Palestinian authorities were not involved.

The El Al plane, which is equipped with anti-missile technology, was also the first Israeli commercial flight to fly through Saudi Arabia’s airspace.

US national security assessor Robert C. O’Brien and his Israeli counterpart Meir Ben Shabat formed part of the Abu Dhabi-bound delegation along with Kushner.

Their task in the Arab nation, where they are to meet with national security advisor Sheikh Tahnoun bin Zayed, will include the early planning stages for the creation of embassies.

They were greeted at the airport in Abu Dhabi by UAE’s deputy foreign minister Anwar Gargash and US ambassador John Rakolta.

Kushner and Netanyahu on Sunday said the Israel-US peace plan, officially called Peace to Prosperity: A Vision to Improve the Lives of the Palestinian and Israeli People, as the only “realistic” option for the region.

Netanyahu tweeted Monday: “This is a historic day for the State of Israel that I have been working to achieve for decades.”

Palestinian authorities have outright rejected the deal, which could see Israel annex swathes of the West Bank, and have criticized the UAE’s decision to move towards normalizing relations with Israel before a peace deal is in place.

The UAE had conditioned its support for ties with Israel on the condition the Israeli government scrapped its plans to annex Palestinian territory.

Netanyahu later said that the agreement had been to delay the annexation rather than cancel it.

Only two other Arab nations have relations with Israel — Jordan and Egypt. (August 31, 2020, EFE/PracticaEspañol)

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