Emirates-Israel agreement: first official flight between Tel Aviv and Abu Dhabi

Donald Trump's son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner poses in front of El Al's plane which takes US and Israeli delegations to Abu Dgabi on August 31, 2020. Menahem Kahana / Pool Photo via AP

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3 min

An American delegation and an Israeli delegation are expected in the United Arab Emirates on Monday, August 30, for the landing of the first official flight between Tel Aviv and Abu Dhabi. They have just started negotiations for an agreement between Israel and the Emirates, an agreement announced a little over two weeks ago by the American president.


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With our correspondent in Jerusalem, Guilhem Delteil

This is the first sign of rapprochement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, which until then had no official diplomatic relations. The two American and Israeli delegations are traveling to Abu Dhabi aboard an El Al plane, the Israeli company from Tel Aviv. It is thus the first aircraft to carry passengers between the two cities.

In May and then in June, two planes from the Emirati company Etihad landed at Tel Aviv airport but it was a transport of goods: equipment to help the Palestinians in the fight against the coronavirus . With this El Al flight, it is the first time that passengers have made a direct connection between Israel and the United Arab Emirates.

A historic journey  "

This is the start of a historic journey to the Middle East,  " said Jared Kushner, adviser to the White House before boarding the plane. The American and Israeli leaders evoke "  a first commercial flight  " between the two countries. It is also the first time that an El Al plane has been cleared through Saudi airspace, cutting travel time in half.

This flight is one of the first concrete signs of the willingness shown by Israel and the United Arab Emirates to strike a deal. But American and Israeli officials emphasize its importance for political communication purposes because it is not in fact a "commercial flight" but an official flight carrying the two delegations and some journalists selected by the White House and the office of the Israeli prime minister.

No other flight between the two cities has yet been announced. This is also one of the themes of the negotiations which are due to start on Monday.

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  • Israel
  • United Arab Emirates
  • United States
  • Diplomacy

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