High-level delegations are flying from Israel to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on the first-ever commercial flight between the Middle Eastern nations to put final touches on a controversial pact establishing open relations.
Top aides to US President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are going to be on board the flight from Tel Aviv to the UAE capital Abu Dhabi on Israel’s flag carrier El Al on Monday.
Flight LY971 is predicted to require off at 10:30am and is about to fly over Saudi Arabia after Riyadh agreed to the Israeli request on Sunday – also a primary .
The plane carrying the US and Israeli delegations to Abu Dhabi has the word “peace” written thereon in English, Hebrew, and Arabic.
It is also named after Kiryat Gat, a Jewish settlement built on the remains of two ethnically cleansed Palestinian villages, Iraq al-Manshiyya and al-Faluja.
Announced on August 13, the “normalisation” deal is that the first such accommodation between an Arab country and Israel in additional than 20 years and was catalysed largely by shared fears of Iran.
Palestinians were dismayed by the UAE’s move, worried it might weaken a long-standing pan-Arab position that involved Israeli withdrawal from occupied territory and acceptance of Palestinian statehood reciprocally for normal relations with Arab countries.
Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner and National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien head the US delegation. The Israeli team is led by O’Brien’s counterpart, Meir Ben-Shabbat.
Officials will explore bilateral cooperation in areas like commerce and tourism, and Israeli defence envoys are thanks to visit the UAE separately.
Israeli officials hope the two-day trip will produce a date for a Washington signing ceremony, perhaps as early as September, between Netanyahu and Abu Dhabi’s prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
That could give Trump a far off policy boost before his re-election bid in November.
In Jerusalem on Sunday, Kushner called the UAE-Israel deal a “giant step forward”.
“To have played a task in its creation, and that i say this because the grandson of two Holocaust survivors, it means more to me and to my family that I can ever express,” Kushner said.
The Trump administration has tried to coax other Arab countries concerned about Iran to interact with Israel. the foremost powerful of these , Saudi Arabia, has signalled that it’s not ready.
But in what could presage a more relaxed posture by Riyadh, the El Al plane are going to be allowed to overfly Saudi territory to chop flight time.
On Sunday, Israeli channel Kan reported there was Israeli concern that Riyadh may revoke permission to use Saudi airspace at the last moment. If the flight is allowed, it might mark the primary time an Israeli commercial plane uses Saudi territory for an overflight. There was no comment from Saudi officials.
O’Brien said on Sunday more Arab and Muslim countries were likely to follow Abu Dhabi’s move.
“We believe that other Arab and Muslim countries will soon follow the United Arab Emirates’ lead and normalise relations with Israel,” O’Brien told reporters after talks at Netanyahu’s residence.
He didn’t name the states, but Israeli officials have publicly mentioned Oman, Bahrain and Sudan.
Recent news reports suggested Morocco can also be considering an identical agreement with Israel in exchange for military and aid .
However, Moroccan Prime Minister Saad Eddine el-Othmani said last week “we refuse any normalisation with the Zionist entity because this emboldens it to travel further in breaching the rights of the Palestinian people”.
Palestinians have condemned the UAE’s move as an abandonment of a policy of linking official relations with Israel to the achievement of Palestinian statehood in territory captured by Israel within the 1967 war.
In the Israeli-occupied West Bank , Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s executive committee, said Kushner and his team were “scrambling to convince as many Arab and Muslim leaders as possible” to offer Trump an election boost.
“They are going to be a prop at the backdrop of a meaningless spectacle for a ridiculous agreement which will not bring peace to the region,” she said.
The UAE-Israel agreement hit an instantaneous hindrance after it had been announced, as contradictory comments on the planned Israeli annexation of parts of the West Bank and Jordan Valley were made.
In spite of earlier comments by the UAE and a joint statement by the three countries that indicated the annexation plan would be “suspended”, senior UAE official Omar Ghobash, has admitted his government didn’t “have any guarantees as such” that Israel wouldn’t annex occupied Palestinian territory within the future.