(September 1, 2020 / JNS) Over the past decade or so, I have reported from around 100 countries. I have been in the White House during the good moments (with U.S. President Donald Trump) and the bad ones (with President Barack Obama).
I have witnessed the return of the remains of an Israeli soldier from Syria through Moscow, and traveled with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Uganda, Brazil, Ethiopia and Beijing for his diplomatic visits. But Monday’s flight from Tel Aviv to Abu Dhabi was something completely different. It underscores the major breakthrough between the United Arab Emirates and Israel.
The fact that El Al’s Star of David flew over Saudi Arabia symbolizes the tectonic shift underway in relations between Israel and the Arab world. Israel took a giant leap forward on Monday in its effort to integrate into the region. The hostility and the boycotts are now a thing of the past, a new era of cooperation and friendship has begun.
The enormity of these developments was palpable among all those who were on board, not just the Israeli and U.S. officials but also the flight crew and reporters. Everyone talked about how it was such a great privilege to be taking part in this historic event. Special face masks decorated with the flags of the United States, the UAE and Israel were handed out; the boarding passes also had a special design.
It’s also worth noting that throughout the three-hour flight, Israeli and U.S. officials sat next to each other as if they were family or citizens of the same nation. Such closeness among the senior members of both governments is unprecedented. This intimacy in and of itself is an accomplishment that stands out.
One of the most moving moments was when the head of Israel’s National Security Council, Meir Ben-Shabbat, addressed the Emirati people in Arabic, with the Israeli flag and the El Al plane in the backdrop at the Abu Dhabi airport. This image will live forever in Israeli history books, for good reason.
Now that the festivities are over, however, the hard work begins. This part usually takes longer and will no doubt be more complex. Crises may emerge, but the overwhelming majority of issues don’t require any gaps to be bridged. There are some external problems, chief among which is the question of whether Saudi Arabia will grant Israeli carriers a green light to enter its airspace.
Another, more important question, is what will happen with the extension of Israeli sovereignty to Judea and Samaria. Israel has agreed to put this on hold in exchange for the normalization with the UAE, but sooner or later this suspension will come to an end.
Ariel Kahana is a diplomatic correspondent for Israel Hayom.
This article first appeared in Israel Hayom.
Support Jewish Journalism
with 2020 Vision
One of the most intriguing stories of the sudden Coronavirus crisis is the role of the internet. With individuals forced into home quarantine, most are turning further online for information, education and social interaction.
JNS's influence and readership are growing exponentially, and our positioning sets us apart. Most Jewish media are advocating increasingly biased progressive political and social agendas. JNS is providing more and more readers with a welcome alternative and an ideological home.
During this crisis, JNS continues working overtime. We are being relied upon to tell the story of this crisis as it affects Israel and the global Jewish community, and explain the extraordinary political developments taking place in parallel.
Our ability to thrive in 2020 and beyond depends on the generosity of committed readers and supporters. Monthly donations in particular go a long way in helping us sustain our operations. We greatly appreciate any contributions you can make during these challenging times. We thank you for your ongoing support and wish you blessings for good health and peace of mind.