Historic El Al flight brings US-Israeli delegation

By Eudore R. Chand

*** GENERAL CAPTION *** ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - August 31, 2020: The arrival of the US-Israeli delegation. ( Hamad Al Kaabi / Ministry of Presidential Affairs )​ ---

ABU DHABI 1 September 2020: A US-Israeli delegation, led by Jared Kushner, son-in-law of and Senior Adviser to US President Donald Trump, arrived at the presidential airport in Abu Dhabi on Monday.

The delegation arrived on board the first Israeli commercial plane – on which the word “peace” was printed in Arabic, English and Hebrew above a cockpit window – to land in the UAE.

Peace be upon you: Israel’s national security adviser

The Head of Israel’s National Security Council, Meir Ben-Shabbat, read his first statement to the media in Arabic after he landed in Abu Dhabi, as the first-ever commercial flight from Tel Aviv to the UAE’s capital marked history yesterday, said official news agency Wam.

Bin-Shabbat, who stood next to US President’s senior adviser, Jared Kushner, and US National Security Adviser, Robert O’Brien, started his statement with the Islamic greeting “As-salamu alaykum,” which means “Peace be upon you.”

“I’m proud and really pleased to head the Israeli delegation. We are here to turn a vision into a reality,” he told the reporters in Arabic. “There are no limits for improvement in many fields [between the UAE and Israel] like innovation, tourism, aviation, agriculture, energy and many others.”

Ben-Shabbat, who was appointed Israel Prime Minister’s national security adviser in 2017, read his second statement in Hebrew.

The top-level US-Israel delegation was received at the airport by Dr. Anwar Gargash, UAE’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs. The delegation will depart Abu Dhabi today.

UAE is the third Arab country to normalise ties with Israel after Egypt in 1978 and Jordan in 1994.

Tolerance, Pope & Israel

US President Donald Trump’s son-in-law who is also chief Middle East adviser highlighted the fact that the UAE in 2019 celebrated “Year of Tolerance” and hosted Head of Catholic Church, Pope Francis, who became the first-ever pope to visit the Arabian Peninsula.

“And this year they welcomed Israel,” Kushner said.

*** GENERAL CAPTION ***
ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – August 31, 2020: The arrival of the US-Israeli delegation.
( Mohamed Al Hammadi / Ministry of Presidential Affairs )

“I want to thank His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, for his leadership and courage. He is truly leading the new Middle East,” he added.

Asked what this historic flight means to him personally, Kushner said, “For me to fly over here today was a tremendous honor.”

“My grandparents survived the Holocaust. They were persecuted because of their faith in Nazi Germany in the 1940s. They came to America and experienced freedom, which enabled them to live the American dream and have a great life,” he added, emphasising that people of all faiths should be living at peace.

Abolishing boycott law ‘historic’ decision

The decision made by President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan on Saturday to abolish the Israel Boycott Law was “historic” and “showed real leadership,” a top Israeli official told Emirates News Agency, WAM, today.

“The important decision to abolish the boycott on Israel and Israeli companies is an important step towards normalisation. The UAE President [Sheikh] Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, took a historic decision that shows real leadership,” Lior Haiat, Spokesperson for Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.

Following the abolition of the Israel Boycott Law, individuals and companies in the UAE may enter into agreements with bodies or individuals residing in Israel or belonging to it by their nationality, in terms of commercial, financial operations, or any other dealings of any nature.

Haiat said this delegation “will create the basis of the future of the normalisation accords.”

“We hope that it would be a quick process [the normalisation] and within a few weeks or months we would be able to see the fruits of this process,” he added.

The top Israeli official, who worked as his country’s consul-general in Miami, US, between 2016-2019, said that the delegation will discuss with the Emirati officials diplomatic relations, tourism, science and space, trade and investments, as well as cultural and health research.

“The idea is to build the infrastructure of the relationship between the countries and between the peoples,” he continued.

“The UAE and Israel are two of the most innovative countries in the region. There is a lot of potential for cooperation in science and research, and also in trade and tourism.”

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