A new Middle East? There’s something in the air
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A new Middle East? There’s something in the air

El Al has completed its historic first flight to the UAE. The voyage, over Saudi Arabian airspace, carried dignitaries on a plane emblazoned with the word 'peace'.

El Al's flight LY971 after landing at the airport in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, 31 August 2020.  Photo by: Amos Ben Gershom-GPO Via JINIPIX
El Al's flight LY971 after landing at the airport in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, 31 August 2020. Photo by: Amos Ben Gershom-GPO Via JINIPIX

El Al has completed its historic first publicly advertised flight to the United Arab Emirates.

To prepare for the voyage, El Al painted the plane with the message “Peace” written in English, Hebrew and Arabic, while the United Arab Emirates’ law boycotting Israel was abolished.

This comes after a landmark announcement earlier this month that Israel and the UAE will normalise relations in the framework of a U.S.-brokered deal.

The Israel Airports Authority listed flight LY971, a nod to the UAE’s international phone prefix, +971. The return flight is numbered LY972, which is Israel’s prefix, +972.

Jared Kushner leading the Israeli-American delegation at a ceremony ahead of their departure from Tel Aviv to Abu Dhabi, at the Ben-Gurion Airport near Tel Aviv, August 31, 2020. Photo by: Tomer Neuberg-JINIPIX

Travelling with the landmark delegation, which went over Saudi Arabian airspace, was Israeli National Security Advisor Meir Ben-Shabbat  and US National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien, and President Trump’s son-in-law and White House advisor Jared Kushner.

After touching down in Abu Dhabi, they met with senior Emirati officials.

“I welcome the decision of United Arab Emirates President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed to cancel the law on boycotting products from Israel and economic contacts with Israelis,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement.

“This is an important step in promoting prosperity and peace in the region.”

United Arab Emirates (UAE) Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Mohammed Gargash (C), US President’s senior adviser Jared Kushner (L) and Israeli National Security Advisor Meir Ben-Shabbat (R) during a meeting in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, 31 August 2020. Photo by: Amos Ben Gershom-GPO Via JINIPIX

“Four years ago, my father-in-law asked me to work on peace in the Middle East. I’ve given it my all. There’s still much work to accomplish, but the Abraham Accord is a giant step forward. To play a role in (its) creation — and I say this as the grandson of two Holocaust survivors — it means more to me and to my family than I can ever express,” Kushner said.

“We will continue to pursue peace between Israel, the biblical homeland of the Jewish people, and its Arab and Muslim neighbors and I have never been more hopeful about peace.”

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