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The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Israel lists first commercial passenger flight to UAE

The flight would be numbered LY971, a nod to the UAE’s international calling code. [Getty]

Date of publication: 28 August, 2020

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The two countries agreed to normalize relations Aug. 13, marking the first concrete step of a diplomatic deal between them that required Israel to halt plans to annex Palestinian land.

Israel has listed an El Al flight taking off Monday for Abu Dhabi, which would be Israel’s first commercial passenger flight to the United Arab Emirates after the two countries agreed to a U.S.-brokered deal to normalize relations.

The website of the Israel Airports Authority listed the flight on Friday, which U.S. officials earlier said will include officials led by President Donald Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner. Other U.S. officials on board will include national security adviser Robert O’Brien, Mideast envoy Avi Berkowitz and envoy for Iran Brian Hook.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu earlier announced that his national security adviser, Meir Ben-Shabbat, will lead Israel’s delegation. A number of Israeli government ministries will also send representatives, including the directors of the foreign and defense ministries and the national aviation authority, he said.

The Israel Airports Authority said the flight would be numbered LY971, a nod to the UAE’s international calling code number. A return flight to Ben Gurion International Airport on Tuesday will be numbered LY972, Israel’s international calling code.

Authorities in Israel and the UAE did not immediately acknowledge the flight. The U.S. Embassy in Abu Dhabi did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The two countries agreed to normalize relations Aug. 13. By Aug. 16, telephone calls began ringing between the United Arab Emirates and Israel, marking the first concrete step of a U.S.-brokered diplomatic deal between the nations that required Israel to halt plans to annex land sought by the Palestinians.

The historic deal delivered a key foreign policy victory to Trump as he seeks reelection, and reflected a changing Middle East in which shared concerns about archenemy Iran have largely overtaken traditional Arab support for the Palestinians.

Palestinians maintain it puts a just resolution to the Middle East conflict even farther out of reach.

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