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Etihad Airways Flies Direct from Abu Dhabi to Tel Aviv in Historic First to Deliver Aid to Palestinians

Etihad Airways Flies Direct from Abu Dhabi to Tel Aviv in Historic First to Deliver Aid to Palestinians

Etihad Airways flew between its home base in Abu Dhabi and Tel Avi’s Ben Gurion Airport on Tuesday in what is believed to be the first-ever direct commercial flight between the United Arab Emirates and Israel. Officially, there are no diplomatic ties between the two countries and any flights from the UAE to Israel and vice versa have previously meant a stopover in a neutral third country.

The special one-off flight was chartered to deliver 14 tonnes of medical supplies for the occupied Palestinian territories and did not carry any passengers. Israeli airport officials confirmed that the flight had been given permission to fly direct from Abu Dhabi and this was later confirmed by an Etihad Airways spokesperson.

The UAE’s official news agency later said the flight had delivered much needed Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and medical equipment for Palestinian medics in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. Included in the medical supplies sent by the UAE were 10 “acutely needed” ventialators.

“This is an international crisis that requires an international response,” commented Ambassador Lana Zaki Nusseibeh, who is the Emirati’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York. “The UAE is grateful to UNSCO for facilitating the UAE’s support for the Palestinian people, and for the UN’s tireless efforts to coordinate and assist the global fight against the pandemic,” she continued.

Although there are no official diplomatic ties between the UAE and Israel, relations between the two countries have notably thawed in recent years. There is said to be a virtual Israeli embassy in the UAE and a secret synagogue in Dubai is openly tolerated by authorities.

Israel will also host a Pavillion at the World Expo which was originally meant to be held in Dubai later this year but has now been delayed until 2021 due to the pandemic.

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