A high-ranking US and Israeli delegation went to Abu Dhabi in the first-ever direct commercial passenger flight to the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
The El Al flight, numbered LY971 as a gesture to the UAE’s international calling code number, flew into Saudi Arabian airspace shortly after takeoff. That marked another historic first for Israel and at least an acquiescence by the kingdom for the UAE’s move.
The Israeli flag carrier’s flight marks the implementation of the historic US-brokered deal to normalise relations between the two nations and solidifies the long-clandestine ties between them that have evolved over years of shared enmity toward Iran.
The historic flight came as several people were injured on Monday in an explosion at fast-food restaurants in the Emirati capital, Abu Dhabi, that was likely caused by gas lines in a restaurant, according to officials. In a second incident, one person was killed when a gas cylinder exploded in a Dubai restaurant, local media reported.
The US delegation included President Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, as well as national security adviser Robert O’Brien, Mideast envoy Avi Berkowitz and envoy for Iran Brian Hook. Israel’s team included national security adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat and the director generals of several ministries.
Meir Ben-Shabbat, Israel’s national security adviser and head of the Israeli delegation, said he was excited about the trip and that the aim was to lay the groundwork for cooperation in areas like tourism, medicine, technology and trade.
“This morning the traditional greeting of ‘go in peace’ takes on a special significance for us,” he said.