The first commercial flight of the Emirates Etihad Airways to come from Abu Dhabi landed Monday morning at Tel Aviv Airport, after the signing of the normalization agreement between Israel and the UAE in Washington in the middle of last month.
The plane carried away an Emirati delegation of 58 people, including senior officials in the Union Company, businessmen and journalists.
Tel Aviv Airport organized a reception for the Emirati delegation, describing the landing of the Emirati plane as historic moments.
“We are happy to be here, and we hope that this will be the beginning of a relationship between Israel and the UAE,” said pilot Saleh Abdullah at a ceremony organized at the airport for this occasion.
He added, “If someone had asked me a few months ago if I was not going to stand here and give this speech in Tel Aviv, I would have said: This is impossible.”
The website of the Israeli newspaper, Yedioth Ahronoth, carried the word.
This trip comes a day before the arrival of a high-ranking Emirati delegation to Israel for its first official visit, following the signing of the recent normalization agreement between the two sides.
In a statement, the Israeli Ministry of Transportation announced an agreement with the UAE according to which 28 weekly flights would operate between Tel Aviv and Dubai and Abu Dhabi airports.
The statement indicated that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will personally sign this agreement at Tel Aviv airport, upon the arrival of the UAE official delegation tomorrow, Tuesday, to Israel.
In addition to the commercial flights, 10 weekly cargo flights will be added, in addition to other flights that will operate between the UAE airports and Eilat Ramon International Airport in southern Israel.
Israeli Transportation Minister Miri Regev described reaching this agreement as a historic moment, saying that it means the start of an economic boom with the opening of new markets.
On August 13, the UAE and Israel reached an agreement to normalize relations between them, which was signed on September 15 in Washington.
The agreement was met with widespread Palestinian condemnation, as the Palestinian factions and leadership considered it a “betrayal” by the Emirates and a stab in the back of the Palestinian people.