Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced Tuesday that a delegation led by National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat would depart to Abu Dhabi on Monday, after Israel and the United Arab Emirates agreed to normalize relations.
American officials, including President Donald Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner, National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien and Mideast envoy Avi Berkowitz, will join the delegation, according to Netanyahu.
Israeli officials representing several government ministries and experts in the fields of tourism, aviation, space, commerce, health, energy and defense will also join the delegation to discuss cooperation.
“It’s a historic agreement,” Netanyahu said in a video statement. “It can bring economic growth in general, and particularly in the times of the coronavirus.” He added: “I hope other countries in our region will join the circle of peace.”
The flight, likely on an Israeli El Al airliner, will be the first known direct flight by Israel’s state airline to a Gulf Arab country and an important sign of progress in implementing the August 13 agreement by Israel and the UAE to establish official relations.
The flight also would indicate Saudi support for the deal. The Saudis have voiced lukewarm support and until now have not said whether they would allow the two countries to use its airspace for direct flights. Without Saudi acquiescence, flights would likely have to take a roundabout and potentially risky route around Yemen and through the Persian Gulf.
Last week, officials in Israel and the UAE started to work on the details of their agreements to establish full diplomatic relations, in advance of official talks to take place in Abu Dhabi.
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The Israeli delegation that was meant to leave for the Gulf for those talks was delayed over disagreements on the division of authority between the National Security Council, Mossad and Foreign Ministry.