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Business travelers

One of the benefits of “peace-for-peace” with the United Arab Emirates will be a “major revolution” in direct flights from Tel Aviv to Dubai, top international destinations for tourism, business, and trade.

By Yakir Benzion, United With Israel

Prime Minister Netanyahu said Monday that the historic peace deal with the United Arab Emirates means the Arab ban on Israeli passenger planes flying over their countries is about to become a thing of the past.

“We are now working on allowing direct flights between Tel Aviv and Dubai and Abu Dhabi, over Saudi Arabia,” Netanyahu said during a tour of Ben Gurion Airport, where preparations are being made to resume regular flights to and from up to 20 countries.

“It will change Israeli air travel and the Israeli economy with a great wave of tourism in both directions, with investments of great magnitude,” Netanyahu said. “It is a major revolution.”

“We are working with maximum energy and we have already begun to work on opening an air route over Saudi Arabia, which will simply shorten flights between Israel and the UAE, and will, in effect, open up the east and all of the connecting routes for Israeli air travel,” he added.

Because of the state of war that exists on paper with Israel, Arab countries have always banned El Al and flights by other airlines to and from Ben Gurion from entering their airspace. This forces planes from several locations to make a several-hour detour over the Indian Ocean and Red Sea in order to reach Israel via international airspace. Only Jordan and Egypt have peace treaties with Israel, allowing Israeli planes to cross their skies.

“It changes everything,” Netanyahu said, adding that El Al subsidiary Israir Airlines has already submitted an official request to fly to the UAE. “This will open the entire Israeli tourism and air travel market, and also investments, on a magnitude the likes of which we have not seen.”

The landmark agreement was announced last week by President Trump, who said Netanyahu and UAE leader Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan would meet at the White House in the coming weeks to officially sign the documents establishing full diplomatic relations.

Netanyahu said there was huge economic significance to the agreement with the UAE that would bring mutual tourism, Israel access to the Dubai free trade zones, and UAE investments in technology, real estate and tourism projects.

“They [UAE] are very excited by what they see here. It will be a massive injection for the Israeli economy, of abilities and possibilities for the citizens of Israel that have not existed up until now,” Netanyahu said.

The prime minister lauded the fact that peace with the third Arab country after Egypt and Jordan was based on “peace for peace, the peace of two countries that respect themselves, esteem each other and cooperate” as opposed to the “land for peace” model.

“The fruits of peace stem from the peace and not from dangerous concessions that jeopardize both the peace and our existence. This is a change. It is a revolution. I am very proud of this moment and I think that all Israelis will enjoy it soon,” he said.

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