First plane with Israeli tourists lands in UAE after deal

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)
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)
First plane with Israeli tourists lands in UAE after deal
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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)
First plane with Israeli tourists lands in UAE after deal
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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

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.


EU, Turkey call for better ties after tough 2020

EU, Turkey call for better ties after tough 2020
Updated 16 min 26 sec ago

EU, Turkey call for better ties after tough 2020

EU, Turkey call for better ties after tough 2020
  • Turkey faces threat of EU economic sanctions over a hydrocarbons dispute with Greece in the eastern Mediterranean

BRUSSELS/ANKARA: The European Union and Turkey pressed each other on Thursday to take concrete steps to improve relations long strained by disagreements over energy, migration and Ankara’s human rights record.
Turkey, which remains an official candidate for EU membership despite the tensions, is facing the threat of EU economic sanctions over a hydrocarbons dispute with Greece in the eastern Mediterranean, but the mood music between Brussels and Ankara has improved since the new year.
“We have seen an improvement in the overall atmosphere,” EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said as he welcomed Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu for talks, describing 2020 as complicated.
“Intentions and announcements need to be translated into actions,” Borrell said.
The improved tone follows a video conference between Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and the head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, on Jan. 9 in which both stressed the importance of the bilateral relationship.
Cavusoglu said he hoped von der Leyen and Charles Michel, the head of the European Council which represents the 27 EU member states, would visit Turkey after an invitation from Erdogan.
“It is of course important for there to be a positive atmosphere in Turkey-EU ties, but in order for this to be sustainable, we must take concrete steps,” Cavusoglu added.
2020 proved particularly difficult for relations between Turkey and the EU, especially France, with Erdogan expressing publicly his hope that protests in French cities would topple President Emmanuel Macron.
Greece and Cyprus, strongly backed by France, want to punish Turkey for what they see as provocative oil and gas exploration by Turkish vessels in disputed waters, but Germany and Italy are reluctant to go ahead with any sanctions on Ankara.
Turkey has now withdrawn the vessels and is set to restart talks with Greece, although the EU has accused Ankara of playing “cat and mouse” in a pattern of provocation and reconciliation.
EU leaders will decide in March whether to impose sanctions.
Brussels also accuses Erdogan of undermining the economy, eroding democracy and destroying independent courts and media, leaving Turkey’s bid to join the EU further away than ever.
“We remain concerned about the (human rights) situation in Turkey,” Borrell said on Thursday.
The European Parliament is expected on Thursday to back a resolution calling for the release of Selahattin Demirtas, a leading Kurdish politician jailed in 20216 on terrorism-related charges.
But Turkey remains a big destination for EU trade and investment and also hosts some 4 million Syrian refugees. The EU aims to agree fresh funds for the refugees from 2022 to discourage them from coming into the bloc.
Ankara wants progress on Turks’ right to visa-free travel to the EU, an upgrade of its trade agreement with Europe and recognition of its claims to hydrocarbons off its maritime shelf.