First plane with Israeli tourists lands in UAE after deal

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Israeli tourists leave a flydubai plane which departed from Ben-Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv and landed in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Sunday, Nov. 8, 2020. (AP)
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Israeli tourists leave a flydubai plane which departed from Ben-Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv and landed in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Sunday, Nov. 8, 2020. (AP)
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Israeli tourists fill in en forms after they landed at Dubai Airport in the United Arab Emirates, Sunday, Nov. 8, 2020. (AP)
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An Israeli tourist wears a souvenir tie with a first flight sign and the flags of Israel and the UAE after landing at Dubai Airport, in the United Arab Emirates, Sunday, Nov. 8, 2020. (AP)
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Updated 09 November 2020

First plane with Israeli tourists lands in UAE after deal

  • The flight landed at Dubai International Airport just after 5:40 p.m., bringing the tourists to the skyscraper-studded city
  • Arrival of tourists comes as Dubai tries to revive its vital tourism industry amid COVID-19 pandemic

DUBAI: The first flight carrying Israeli tourists to the United Arab Emirates landed Sunday in the city-state of Dubai, the latest sign of the normalization deal reached between the two nations.
FlyDubai flight No. FZ8194 landed at Dubai International Airport just after 5:40 p.m., bringing the tourists to the skyscraper-studded city after a nearly three-hour trip. The low-cost carrier had sent one of its Boeing 737s to Ben-Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv earlier Sunday morning to pick up the passengers.
The flight flew across Saudi Arabia and then over the waters of the Arabian Gulf to reach the UAE, a federation of seven sheikhdoms also home to Abu Dhabi.
The flight, put together by an Israeli company called Gaya Tours, saw Jewish Israelis and a number of Arab Israelis on board. Many of the Jewish Israelis wore kippah head coverings.
Many of the people on the flight said it was not their first time to the UAE, but all said they were excited to be in Dubai. The tourists were joined by a number of businessmen eager for opportunities in the Emirates.
“There is no doubt that the normalization between Israel and the UAE will bring good things and benefit to the Arabs inside Israel. There is no doubt about that,” said Hussein Suleiman, the head of an Arab businessmen’s delegation on board the flight. “We are supportive of this deal and of the normalization, and we are here today to normalize the normalization in reality.”
The arrival of tourists comes as Dubai in particular tries to revive its vital tourism industry amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The UAE and Israel have agreed to launch regular commercial flights between their countries soon, while other recent flights have carried business and governmental delegations.
FlyDubai plans to begin its flights to Tel Aviv later this month. The airline described Sunday’s flight as a “commercial charter flight” for the incoming tourists, without elaborating.
It comes as Israel and the UAE, which had maintained covert contacts for years, brought their diplomatic relationship out into the open. It signed a normalization deal with Israel alongside Bahrain at a White House ceremony in September, making the them the third and fourth Arab nations to currently have peace with Israel.
But while Egypt and Jordan earlier signed peace deals, the UAE has said it anticipates having a “warm” peace with Israel. The Emirates also hopes the deal with aid its efforts to purchase advanced F-35 fighter jets from the US The deals also unite three nations that remain suspicious of Iran.
However, the agreements did not address the decades-long conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. The agreements, which were seen as a foreign policy win for President Donald Trump ahead of the Nov. 3 election, now face the incoming administration of President-elect Joe Biden.


German defense minister rejects Turkey complaint over Libya weapons ship search

Updated 24 November 2020

German defense minister rejects Turkey complaint over Libya weapons ship search

  • Germany insists it acted correctly in boarding a Turkish ship to enforce arms embargo of Libya
  • Turkey summoned European diplomats to complain at the operation

BERLIN: Germany’s defense minister on Tuesday rejected Turkey’s complaints over the search of a Turkish freighter in the Mediterranean Sea by a German frigate participating in a European mission, insisting that German sailors acted correctly.
Sunday’s incident prompted Turkey to summon diplomats representing the European Union, Germany and Italy and assert that the Libya-bound freighter Rosaline-A was subjected to an “illegal” search by personnel from the German frigate Hamburg. The German ship is part of the European Union’s Irini naval mission, which is enforcing an arms embargo against Libya.
German officials say that the order to board the ship came from Irini’s headquarters in Rome and that Turkey protested while the team was on board. The search was then ended.
Turkey says the search was “unauthorized and conducted by force.”
German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer backed the German crew’s actions.
“It is important to me to make really clear that the Bundeswehr soldiers behaved completely correctly,” she said during an appearance in Berlin. “They did what is asked of them in the framework of the European Irini mandate.”
“That there is this debate with the Turkish side points to one of the fundamental problems of this European mission,” Kramp-Karrenbauer added, without elaborating. “But it is very important to me to say clearly here that there are no grounds for these accusations that are now being made against the soldiers.”
This was the second incident between Turkey and naval forces from a NATO ally enforcing an arms blockade against Libya.
In June, NATO launched an investigation over an incident between Turkish warships and a French naval vessel in the Mediterranean, after France said one of its frigates was “lit up” three times by Turkish naval targeting radar when it tried to approach a Turkish civilian ship suspected of involvement in arms trafficking.
Turkey supports a UN-backed government in Tripoli against rival forces based in the country’s east. It has complained that the EU naval operation focuses its efforts too much on the Tripoli administration and turns a blind eye to weapons sent to the eastern-based forces.
In Ankara, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said that Irini was “flawed from the onset.”
“It is not based on firm international legal foundations,” Akar said. He renewed Turkey’s criticism of the German ship’s actions.
“The incident was against international laws and practices. It was wrong,” he said.
Kramp-Karrenbauer stressed that “Turkey is still an important partner for us in NATO.” Turkey being outside the military alliance would make the situation even more difficult, she argued, and Turkish soldiers are “absolutely reliable partners” in NATO missions.
But she conceded that Turkey poses “a big challenge” because of how its domestic politics have developed and because it has its “own agenda, which is difficult to reconcile with European questions in particular.”