Israel and United Arab Emirates in historic direct flight after peace deal

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Israel’s first commercial flight to the United Arab Emirates is underway, marking a major milestone in the normalization of relations following the announcement of a peace deal.

An Israeli El Al airliner will make the three-hour trip, carrying a delegation of Israeli and US officials.

The flight is cleared through Saudi airspace, normally blocked to Israeli air traffic.

The UAE became the third Arab country in the Middle East to recognize Israel since its founding in 1948.

On Saturday, the UAE repealed a boycott of Israel law that had been in place since 1972, and earlier this month the two countries opened direct telephone services for the first time.

The normalization of relations deal – negotiated by the United States – was made public in a surprise announcement on August 13.

Flight LY971 – numbered to represent the UAE’s international dialing code – carries delegates, including Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner and Israel’s national security adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat.

Mr. Kushner held secret talks that resulted in the Israel-UAE deal.

The joint teams will meet with Emirati representatives to develop areas of cooperation between Israel and the UAE. The return flight will be numbered LY972, after the international code for Israel.

In a Hebrew tweet, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hailed the advent of theft as an example of “peace for peace” – alluding to his long-standing disbelief that only trade in occupied land will bring peace between Israel and the Arab countries. .

Although welcomed by much of the international community, the UAE’s recognition of Israel without the precondition for the establishment of a Palestinian state has been denounced by the Palestinians as a betrayal of their cause.

In exchange for official relations with the United Arab Emirates, Mr. Netanyahu agreed to suspend controversial plans to annex parts of the occupied West Bank – land claimed by the Palestinians for their own future state.

Before the UAE, Egypt and Jordan were the only other Arab countries in the Middle East to officially recognize Israel, having signed peace treaties in 1978 and 1994 respectively.

Mauritania, a member of the Arab League in northwest Africa, established diplomatic relations with Israel in 1999, but severed relations in 2010.

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