History: Israeli-US delegation flies to UAE on direct flight from Israel

August 31, 2020 by Aryeh Savir - TPS
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A delegation of senior Israel and US officials made history Monday when they took off on the first direct flight from the Jewish state to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the latest phase in the implementation of the Abraham Accords between the two countries.

National Security Advisor and head of the National Security Council Meir Ben-Shabbat, US National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien and Senior US Presidential Advisor Jared Kushner    Photo: Amos Ben-Gershom (GPO)

Flight 971, which will fly through Saudi airspace, was painted with the word “peace” in Hebrew, Arabic and English.

The Israeli delegation is led by National Security Advisor and head of the National Security Council Meir Ben-Shabbat will and the American delegation is led by US National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien and Senior US Presidential Advisor Jared Kushner.

The delegation’s visit in the UAE capital of Abu Dhabi will last 24 hours and will include working meetings of joint teams on a range of issues ahead of the signing of cooperation agreements in the civil and economic spheres.

The visit will also include a trilateral meeting in Abu Dhabi between the heads of the delegations and UAE National Security Advisor Sheikh Tahnoun bin Zayed.

Discussions will also be held in working groups composed of Israeli, Emirati and American representatives in the areas of diplomacy, finances, aviation and entry visas, health, culture and tourism, space, science and investments, innovation and trade.

Ahead of the historic visit, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met on Sunday at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem with Kushner and O’Brien.

In remarks to the press, Netanyahu said that “we are all thrilled by the swift pace of normalization between Israel and the UAE.”

“Yesterday, the Emirates officially abolished the anachronistic boycott of the Jewish state. This opens the door for what I can only call unbridled trade, tourism, investments, exchanges between the Middle East’s two most advanced economies. You will see how the sparks fly on this. It’s already happening,” he stated.

“The day will come, and it won’t be far away, when we will ask: How could it have been any other way? Because today’s breakthroughs will become tomorrow’s norms. It will pave the way for other countries to normalize their ties with Israel,” he declared.

Other Muslim countries, possibly including Bahrain, Sudan and Oman are expected to follow the UAE’s lead.

He further noted that the Abraham Accords have had a significant impact on the diplomatic paradigm in the Middle East.

“For far too long, the Palestinians have had a veto on peace, not only between the Palestinians and Israel, but between Israel and the broader Arab world. And if it were up to some of these Palestinians” they would “put our country at risk, while still refusing to recognize the one and only Jewish state. This has been a long-held position on them. So if we have to wait for the Palestinians, we would have to wait forever. Well, no longer,” he said.

“As more Arab and Muslim countries join the circle of peace, the Palestinians will eventually understand that their veto has dissipated, and they will be hard-pressed to remain outside the community of peace,” he estimated.

He stated his belief that “peace favours the strong. Peace favours those who innovate. Peace favours those who are willing to confront the neighbourhood bully. Peace favours Israel.”

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