“We’re flying into a new era which is changing the Middle East,” the Israeli prime minister enthused.
By Yakir Benzion, United With Israel
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday praised the arrival of the first commercial flight from the United Arab Emirates as an historic day and the sign of positive things to come from the peace accord signed between the two countries.
“What we are doing here today is historic: The first commercial flight from Dubai to Israel – and not the last. This is simply not only changing the future of the Middle East and Israel, it is also changing the present,” Netanyahu said at a gala ceremony at Ben Gurion Airport welcoming the flydubai flight and a delegation from the UAE.
The flight by the budget airline flydubai (which spells its name with small letters) was the first scheduled commercial service between the two cities, following the normalization of ties between the UAE and Israel.
“We’re flying into a new era which is changing the Middle East,” Netanyahu declared, adding that this was “history in the making.”
“We are crumbling the Israeli-Arab conflict and turning it into Israeli-Arab cooperation in order to produce not only a new future, but also a new present, and we are doing so with dizzying speed,” the prime minister said.
The Dubai budget airline will operate two flights daily between Dubai and Tel Aviv, with Israeli airlines El Al and Israir both expected to launch their own direct flights between the cities starting in December.
The UAE’s major airline, Etihad Airways, previously said it will start direct flights to Israeli beginning in the spring.
Following the breakthrough announcement by President Donald Trump that the U.S. had brokered a peace deal, the Abraham Accords were signed at the White House in September, establishing diplomatic relations between Israel and both the UAE and Bahrain, which became the third and fourth Arab countries to normalize ties with Israel.
Israel and the UAE have already signed several trade agreements, including a visa-waiver that will allow citizens of each country to fly freely to each other’s destination without the need of a visa.
“There is a great opening here for trade, the economy and tourism that, in effect, makes for a truly new and different Middle East, a meeting between peoples as well as meeting between leaders,” Netanyahu said.