Flight 971 to Abu Dhabi: the first Israel / Emirates “commercial flight”

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TEL-AVIV | An Israeli-American delegation led by the son-in-law of US President Donald Trump is to fly Monday morning from Tel Aviv to Abu Dhabi on the wings of the “first direct commercial flight” between the Hebrew state and the United Arab Emirates, new partners displayed from the Middle East.

The two countries announced an agreement on August 13 to normalize their relations, unofficial for years, with the Emirates becoming the first Gulf country to change the status of their relationship with Israel, and the third in the Arab world, after Egypt. in 1979 and Jordan in 1994.

Unlike these two countries, the Emirates have never fought a war against Israel. And unlike these two countries, Israeli analysts like to evoke “hot” relations with the key to trade, and not just a “cold” peace woven of security coordination without major investments.

Since the announcement of the agreement, sponsored by the United States, Israel and the Emirates have increased telephone exchanges between ministers and Abu Dhabi this weekend repealed a 48-year-old law on boycotting Israel.

Next step: today. The Israeli carrier El AL, threatened with bankruptcy since the COVID-19 pandemic, must take off in the morning around 10:30 am local (6:30 am in Montreal) for a “first direct commercial flight” between the two countries .

In the spring, an official cargo flight from the Emirati carrier Etihad landed at Ben-Gurion Airport with equipment to help Palestinians deal with the pandemic. The Palestinian leadership, which today castigates the Israel / Emirates engagement, had also refused this aid, saying that it had been coordinated with the Hebrew state and not with them.

On Monday, flight LY971 of the company EL AL, in the cockpit already decorated with the words “peace, salam and shalom” – peace – will carry Jared Kushner, special advisor to the White House and son-in-law of the president, the American adviser to the national security Robert O’Brien, Iranian case manager Brian Hook and other big names in the Trump administration.

The Saudi sky?

On the Israeli side, some twenty senior officials and close to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have their tickets for the Gulf, including Meir Ben-Shabbat, head of the National Security Council, a post that Yossi Cohen held before being appointed a few years ago at the head of Mossad, the Israeli foreign intelligence.

Israel and the Emirates are separated by Saudi Arabia, a key ally of the United States and the Emirates as well, and the question Monday morning was whether Riyadh would indeed allow this EL AL flight to cross its airspace as ‘say Israeli media.

Upon arrival, the US and Israeli delegations will meet with Emirati officials for two days of discussion on security, trade, scientific cooperation, tourism and visa procedures for future travelers between the two new partners looking elsewhere. to expand their family.

As part of a tour of the Middle East last week, US Foreign Minister Mike Pompeo visited Sudan, Bahrain and Oman, in an attempt to convince other states in the region to follow suit. the Emirati example.

Benjamin Netanyahu had meanwhile already spoken in recent months with leaders of Sudan, Chad and Oman.

“These are the known encounters. But there are many more unmediated meetings with Arab and Muslim leaders to normalize relations with the State of Israel, ”he said on Sunday without lifting the veil on the identity of the countries concerned by these discussions. .

The story does not yet say when the next commercial flights between Israel and the Emirates will take place, especially as anti-coronavirus measures currently ban foreign tourists from entering Israel, nor what will be the next destination added to the schedules. by EL AL.

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