First Israel-Emirates Commercial Flight Set for Monday

ben-gurion airport
JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty

Jerusalem (AFP) — An Israeli-American delegation will fly on the first commercial flight from Israel to the United Arab Emirates on Monday after a landmark deal between the countries, officials said Friday.

“An official Israeli delegation will go to Abu Dhabi on a direct El Al flight for the first time ever,” a spokesman for Israel’s national carrier said, noting the flight from Tel Aviv was set for Monday.

Jared Kushner, top aide and son-in-law to US President Donald Trump, has confirmed he will be on the flight, alongside National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said that National Security Advisor Meir Ben Shabbat will be leading the “professional delegation”.

The talks in Abu Dhabi will seek ways to boost cooperation on issues including aviation, tourism, trade, health, energy and security, Netanyahu’s office said.

Israel and the UAE announced an agreement on August 13 to establish full diplomatic ties, including direct commercial flights between Tel Aviv and Dubai, the main city of the Emirates.

Netanyahu has said Israel is “working to enable direct flights over Saudi Arabia”, a US ally close to the Emirates, but with no official ties with the Jewish state.

It was not clear if the flight on Monday would cross Saudi airspace.

A UAE plane in the colours of the national carrier Etihad landed in Tel Aviv in June carrying medical aid for the Palestinians to tackle the coronavirus pandemic, but it was not considered a commercial flight.

The Palestinian Authority of Mahmud Abbas refused the aid, saying the flight were not coordinated with them.

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