A rare flight from the United Arab Emirates arrived in Israel on Tuesday night, carrying medical equipment to help Palestinians fight the coronavirus pandemic. The landing was confirmed by state-run news agency. Bloomberg reports.
The Etihad Airways plane was scheduled to land shortly before 10 p.m. at Ben Gurion Airport near Tel Aviv, Airports Authority sloomberg spokesman Ofer Lefler said. While Israel and the UAE have had diplomatic relations, ties between them have warmed in recent years, largely over a shared distrust of Iran. Still, there are no publicly known flights between the countries.
The plane carried 14 tons of medical equipment, including "10 ventilators that are urgently needed," according to a joint statement from the UAE government and the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process. The cargo will be handed over to the UN, which will distribute it in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
An Etihad Airways spokesperson confirmed earlier that the plane was transporting medical supplies for the Palestinians. A total of 388 coronavirus cases have been reported in the West Bank and Gaza. Two people have died in the West Bank.
This is the first time an Etihad aircraft will openly land in Israel, Army Radio Middle East editor Jacky Hugi said on Twitter early Tuesday. The Israel Hayom newspaper said the shipment would arrive on an Airbus 330 plane.
In the meantime, the Palestinians' rage over Israel's intention to annex territories in Judea and Samaria is increasing. Palestinian Authority Chairman Abu Mazen said that for the Palestinians, the Oslo agreement was no longer in effect and warned that the Palestinians were discontinuing security coordination with Israel.
Prime Minister Netanyahu's replacement Prime Minister Benny Gantz agreed to apply Israel's sovereignty over territories in Judea and Samaria. The US State Department did not express overwhelming opposition, but made it clear that such a step must be taken in coordination with the Palestinians.
US Democrat candidate Joe Biden has made it clear that he opposes the application of Israeli sovereignty over territories in Judea and Samaria, saying that such a move could seriously jeopardize the prospects for a peace settlement between Israel and the Palestinians.
The Jordanian King Abdullah also strongly criticized Israel's intention, saying that if it implemented it, it would severely harm the relations between the two states and the peace agreement. He refused to elaborate on what steps he would take, stressing that this would be determined after Israel officially announced annexation.
photo: Israel Airports Authority Spokesman’s Office