Saudi Arabia allowed the “historic” flight to cross its airspace, Kushner said at Abu Dhabi shortly after the flight landed. “This is the first time this has ever happened. I would like to thank the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for making that possible.”
The landmark direct flight by Israel’s national carrier, numbered LY971 in a nod to the UAE’s international dialing code, is due to return on Tuesday with the number 972, matching Israel’s dialing code.
The agreement to normalize ties was announced by Trump on Aug. 13, making the UAE the first Gulf country and only the third Arab nation to establish relations with Israel.
Unlike Egypt, which made peace with its former battlefield enemy in 1979, and Jordan, which followed in 1994, the UAE has never fought a war with Israel.
Israeli National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat, who was also on the flight to the UAE, said “our goal is to achieve a joint working plan to advance relations in a very broad range of areas.
“This morning, the traditional blessing ‘go in peace’ receives special meaning for us,” he was quoted as saying in an English-language government statement.
The talks in Abu Dhabi aim to boost cooperation between the two regional economic powerhouses in areas including aviation, tourism, trade, health, energy and security.
An Israeli government statement said there would be “working meetings of joint teams on a range of issues ahead of the signing of cooperation agreements in the civil and economic spheres.”
The visit will also include a meeting between Kushner, Ben-Shabbat and UAE National Security Adviser Sheikh Tahnoun bin Zayed, it said.
Israel’s health ministry had late Sunday updated its list of “green countries” with low coronavirus infection rates to include the UAE and eight other countries.
The change meant the Israeli officials and journalists traveling to Abu Dhabi would be exempted from a 14-day quarantine upon return.
Since the agreement between the UAE and Israel was unveiled, there have been phone calls between their ministers, and on Saturday the Emirates in a new milestone repealed a 1972 law boycotting Israel.
“It will be permissible to enter, exchange or possess Israeli goods and products of all kinds in the UAE and trade in them,” read a decree issued by UAE President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al-Nahyan.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, speaking alongside Kushner in Jerusalem on Sunday, praised “the swift pace of normalization” between his country and the UAE.
Noting the UAE’s move from Saturday, Netanyahu said it “opens the door” for “unbridled trade, tourism, investments, exchanges between the Middle East’s two most advanced economies.”
“There are many more unpublicized meetings with Arab and Muslim leaders to normalize relations with the state of Israel,” Netanyahu said without naming any countries.
As part of the normalization agreement, Israel agreed to suspend its planned annexations in the occupied West Bank, although Netanyahu quickly insisted the plans remained on the table in the long run.
The Palestinians dubbed the UAE’s agreement with Israel a “stab in the back” as it opens parts of the Arab world to the Jewish state while their own conflict remains unresolved.
Saudi Arabia, in keeping with decades of policy by most Arab states, says it will not follow the UAE’s example until Israel has signed a peace deal with the Palestinians establishing an independent Palestinian state.