BEN GURION AIRPORT—Jared Kushner, a former newspaper publisher and current Senior Advisor to his father-in-law President Donald Trump, led a delegation of Israeli and US senior officials on the first flight from Israel to the United Arab Emirates. The plane touched down at 3:38 p.m. local time.

The UAE established diplomatic relations with Israel on August 13, 2020. Only two other nations currently have diplomatic relations with Israel, including Egypt and Jordan, which signed peace treaties in 1979 and 1994 respectively.

“I prayed yesterday at the (Western) Wall that Muslims and Arabs throughout the world will be watching this flight, recognizing that we are all children of God, and that the future does not have to be pre-determined by the past,” Kushner told reporters at Tel Aviv’s Ben-Gurion airport before taking off.

Flight 971 of Israel’s national carrier El Al then took off from Ben Gurion International Airport near Tel Aviv, and landed in Abu Dhabi. Kushner described the 3 hour and 20 minute flight across Saudi Arabia, a state that does not recognize Israel, as “historic.”

The two-day trip covers topics including aviation, tourism, and the economy. Israel and the UAE say they want to promote trade – especially the sale of Emirati oil to Israel and Israeli technology to the UAE – establish direct air links, and boost tourism.

On Saturday, August 29, UAE President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan officially cancelled his country’s economic boycott of Israel, allowing Israelis and Israeli firms to do business in the UAE.

“The decree of the new law comes within the UAE’s efforts to expand diplomatic and commercial cooperation with Israel,” said WAM, a UAE state-run agency. It lays out “a roadmap toward launching joint cooperation, leading to bilateral relations by stimulating economic growth and promoting technological innovation.”

Israel’s Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi praised the move in a statement.

“The UAE’s decision to abolish the boycott on Israel is an important step towards peace, which will yield substantial economic and commercial achievements for both people while strengthening the stability in the region,” said Ashkenazi.

Statements issued by the UAE and Israel on Sunday said the UAE minister of state and Israel’s agriculture minister had spoken by phone and “pledged to collaborate on projects that address food and water security.”

According to the World Trade Organization, the UAE economy depends on oil imports. The Qatar-based news agency Al-Jazeera said in an article published on August 31 that the state relies on imports for about 80 percent of its food. The gulf state heavily encouraged investment in agricultural technology and farmland abroad in recent years.

Agents from the U.S. Secret Service and Israel’s Shin Bet Bet domestic security agency, Israel’s internal security service, were also among those onboard. An El Al spokesman said the plane was equipped with a C-Music anti-missile system on its rear carriage. “With two countries’ NSAs (national security agencies) on board, you understand the sensitivity,” an American delegate said.

Israeli and US national security agents planned to hold a tripartite meeting with the UAE’s National Security Adviser, Sheikh Tahnoun bin Zayed Al Nahyan as well as other senior Emirati officials.

The DailyMail reported Israeli officials optimistic that the two-day trip will produce a date for a Washington signing ceremony between Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu and Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan.

The Trump administration has tried to convince other Muslim countries to recognize Israel. The governments of Saudi Arabia and Pakistan refused to recognize Israel without the creation of a Palestinian state.

Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan said on the day of the UAE’s establishment of diplomatic relations with Israel, August 13, that the kingdom supports peace in the Middle East on the basis of the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative, which calls for normalization with Israel to be paired with withdrawal from the occupied territories and the creation of a Palestinian state.  

Pakistani PM Imran Khan was quoted by Dunya News stating: “Whatever any country does, our position is very clear. And our position was made clear by [Pakistan’s founder] Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah…in 1948: that we cannot ever accept Israel as long as Palestinians are not given their rights and there is no just settlement.”

Palestinian news agencies published cartoons and photos of protests against the UAE government.

Al-Jazeera reported Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh on Monday calling the flight “very painful” and “a clear and a blatant violation of the Arab position towards the Arab-Israeli conflict.”