American and Israeli diplomats boarded the first-ever direct flight from Israel to the United Arab Emirates Monday morning weeks after the historic Washington-brokered peace deal between the two countries, the Jerusalem Post reported.
The El Al flight hosted National Security adviser Robert O’Brien, top Trump aide Jared Kushner, and Israeli national security adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat. Designated with the Arabic, Hebrew, and English word for "peace," the flight transported the officials for trilateral talks regarding regional security and trade.
The talks and their corresponding flight were hailed as landmark successes for regional diplomatic efforts by Israeli and American leaders alike.
"For far too long, the Palestinians have had a veto on peace, not only between the Palestinians and Israel, but Israel and the Arab states," Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu said.
Netanyahu also discussed the large contingent of Obama-era national security staffers who criticized Trump’s foreign policy in the Middle East, and in particular the decision to move America’s embassy to Jerusalem. The Israeli prime minister said those critics "have been proven dead wrong."
O’Brien said more tangible benefits could result from extended cooperation between the two states. "Combining Israel’s innovation and creativity with the UAE’s financial centers and capital [can be] truly incredible for the Middle East," O’Brien said.
"Israel and the UAE are putting the region on a truly transformative path," O'Brien added.
Though Israel and Saudi Arabia have not normalized relations, the flight took a path through Saudi airspace—another first for an Israeli airline. With the world’s fifth-largest defense budget, a robust military, and a deep animosity for the Iranian regime, Saudi Arabia is the next expected target for increased Israeli, American, and Emirati diplomatic efforts.
Monday's flight over Saudi airspace potentially signals future normalization between Israel and the Saudis. Trump administration officials have expressed increasing confidence about such prospects following the August peace deal.