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Israel and the United Arab Emirates (with the U.S.acting as a broker) have announced a full normalization of their diplomatic relations which can only be seen as a historic, especially in these fragile times.

Until now Israel has had no diplomatic relations with North African, Gulf Arab countries (among others) and normalizing relations with the UAE might be a stepping stone and we actually might see direct flights between the UAE and Israel soon.

I guess you could say it’s more an establishment of diplomatic relations as so far there has been zilch and I’m sure this step will be a thorn in the eye of Saudi Arabia, Iran and other sworn enemies of Israel.

As the BBC reported in the early morning hours today the historic diplomatic deal that was brokered by the current U.S. administration was agreed to between Prime Minister Netanyahu and Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed Al Nahyan.

Israel and the United Arab Emirates have reached a deal to normalise relations, with Israel agreeing to suspend its controversial plans to annex parts of the occupied West Bank.

In a surprise statement by US President Donald Trump, who helped broker it, the countries called the accord “historic” and a breakthrough toward peace.

Until now Israel has had no diplomatic relations with Gulf Arab countries.

But shared worries over Iran have led to unofficial contacts between them.

Palestinian leaders were reportedly taken by surprise. A spokesman for President Mahmoud Abbas said the deal amounted to “treason”, and the Palestinian ambassador to the UAE was being recalled.

President Trump called the deal between Prime Minister Netanyahu and Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed Al Nahyan “a truly historic moment”. It marks only the third Israel-Arab peace deal since Israel’s declaration of independence in 1948, after Egypt and Jordan.

“Now that the ice has been broken I expect more Arab and Muslim countries will follow the United Arab Emirates,” he told reporters in the Oval Office, saying there would be a signing ceremony at the White House in the coming weeks.

Earlier, in response to a President Trump’s tweeted announcement, Mr Netanyahu wrote in Hebrew: “Historic day.” …

Mr Netanyahu said Israel would co-operate with the UAE in developing a coronavirus vaccine, in energy, water, environmental protection and many other fields. …

The UAE’s ambassador to the US, Yousef Al Otaiba, said the deal with Israel was “a win for diplomacy and for the region”, adding: “It is a significant advance in Arab-Israeli relations that lowers tensions and creates new energy for positive change”. …

The establishment of full diplomatic relations; the exchange of embassies; and normal trade ties between Israel and the UAE is a significant diplomatic step forward. But inevitably it raises questions. Will the full promise of this agreement be realised? And might other Gulf countries follow a similar path?

In the coming weeks delegations from Israel and the UAE will meet to sign bilateral deals regarding investment, tourism, direct flights, security, telecommunications, technology, energy, healthcare, culture, the environment, the establishment of reciprocal embassies, and other areas of mutual benefit.

The last section of what is scheduled to be agreed to is especially interesting. This would be the first official direct passenger flight between the two countries and the option of visiting each others countries as tourists is also huge.

Not sure how safe people would feel going around as tourists but the UAE and Israel are both relatively safe countries so I wouldn’t be worried there.

If Emirates and Etihad would get into the Israeli aviation market that would be a huge convenience because so far everyone that was looking to fly long haul was in the predicament to either select El Al or one of the few direct flights if there are any at all. A connection with EK/EY would be much more convenient as it opens many doors.

For sure El Al management won’t like this at all as the airline has mounted huge losses and recently recalled all aircraft for an indefinite period of time as operations during Covid-19 have become pretty much impossible.

It’s sad to already see some backlash from the Arab world against this historic agreement, some even calling it treason. I don’t want to make this political but that’s simply the wrong perspective to look things.

Conclusion

Israel has so far been a very tight market that strongly favored El Al but they still couldn’t make a decent profit and operating there also required a very tight knit security network which the carrier has pretty much perfected. Considering the sentiments in the Arab world I wonder if EY/EK would have to worry about similar issues and if flying to/from Israel would open them up to security risks!?

In any case I’m happy for the people in the region that the door has opened up more than just a little bit with this agreement that is yet to be inked. Hopefully there won’t be any dramatic turn of events and this can go ahead.

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