09/01/2020, 12.12
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First Israeli flight lands in Abu Dhabi. Emirates in aid of Syria

Yesterday an Israeli El Al aircraft, which departed from Tel Aviv, landed in Abu Dhabi after flying over Saudi airspace. Meir Ben-Shabbat: “Here to transform a vision into reality”, unlimited collaboration between the two countries. Criticism from the Palestinian front: a peace made by denying rights. The Emirates first load of aid to Syria since the beginning of the war.

Abu Dhabi (AsiaNews / Agencies) - A little over two weeks after the agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the first direct air link between the two nations was made yesterday; during the route, the Israeli-flagged aircraft also crossed the skies of Saudi Arabia. This is the "first direct commercial flight" between the two nations, which took off from Ben Gurion international airport in Tel Aviv and landed at Abu Dhabi airport.

On board the vehicle of the El Al company there was a mixed Israeli-US delegation, which set foot in the Emirates at 3.39 pm local time after flying over the Saudi kingdom with special authorization. Leading the group was Jared Kushner, son-in-law of US President Donald Trump and his special adviser for the Middle East.

At the head of the aircraft were the words "Peace, Salam, Shalom" (in English, Arabic and Hebrew), next to the company logo and the flight number: LY 971 on the way out and LY 972 on the way back, which are the respective telephone area codes of the United Arab Emirates and Israel.

The focus of the talks between the Israeli-American delegation and the Emirati counterparts are issues related to security, trade, collaboration in the scientific field and in the fight against the new coronavirus. Also tourism and the procedures for issuing visas between the two countries - now partners - for future travellers.

Upon his arrival, Kushner underlined the Riyadh’s gesture, which granted "for the first time" the green light to fly over its airspace to an Israeli vehicle. The Saudis still have no relations with Israel and, even recently, they have reiterated - rejecting pressure from the White House - that diplomatic relations will only be possible after real peace between Israelis and Palestinians is achieved.

Israeli National Security Advisor Meir Ben-Shabbat addressed the Emirati hosts with the traditional Arabic greeting "Salamo alaykoum" (peace be with you); he then added that "we are here to turn a vision into reality" and that there are no "limits" to future collaboration between the two nations.

The reaction of the Palestinians was immediate and critical, delivered through chief negotiator Saëb Erekat who stressed that "there can be no real peace by denying the Palestinians' right to exist".

Meanwhile, the United Arab Emirates, once allies of the Saudis and of the anti-Assad opposition front, have sent - and for the first time since the war began in 2011 - a load of medical and humanitarian aid to Syria, to be used in the fight against the new coronavirus pandemic.

The cargo, which arrived on the evening of August 30 via the Syrian Red Crescent, includes medicines, respirators and disinfectants and is the result of the first [telephone] contact, dating back four months ago, between President Bashar al-Assad and the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Mohammad ben Zayed.

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