The first direct flight from Israel to the United Arab Emirates departed at around 11:15 am (local time) on Monday. The plane of the Israeli national airline El Al with flight number 971 departed from Tel Aviv to Abu Dhabi almost an hour later than planned.
It is the first commercial flight between the two countries since a historic agreement was signed last month that normalizes relations between the two countries. Earlier this year, a cargo flight from Etihad Airlines already departed to Israel with supplies for the Palestinian territories.
Monday's flight bears flight number 971, referring to the United Arab Emirates country code. For a long time, the airline Etihad Airlines did not even show Israel on the map that can be seen on screens during flights. On the plane, a Boeing 737-900, the word peace was applied this weekend in three languages (Hebrew, Arabic and English).
According to the Reuters news agency , it is the first time that an Israeli aircraft is allowed to fly through the airspace of Saudi Arabia on Monday. Flight LY971 lands in Abu Dhabi around 3:00 PM. It is an hour later in the UAE than in Israel.
The Boeing 737-900 was marked with the word peace in three languages (photo: El Al).
American delegation on the run
On board the flight are Jared Kushner, son-in-law of US President Donald Trump, US National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien and an Israeli delegation. The United States assisted in the mediation between the two countries.
In Abu Dhabi, delegations from the three countries will discuss tourism and trade between Israel and the UAE. It is a first step towards the full normalization of diplomatic relations. During the two-day journey, the two countries are expected to agree on a date for the official ratification of the accord in Washington. This may already happen in September, a few months before the US presidential election.
The agreement that the two countries concluded two weeks ago can be called historic. In fact, it is recognition of Israel by the UAE. This makes the UAE the first Arab Gulf state to do so, and only the third Arab country to have active diplomatic ties with Israel.
The return flight with flight number 972, the country code of Israel, departs on Tuesday at 12:00 (local time).
See also: UAE scraps boycott of Israel, paves way for economic ties