The first direct airline flight between Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) took place on Monday. Behind the simple flight is a historic softening of attitudes between Israel and a nearby Arab nation.
When flight LY971 from Tel Aviv touched down in Abu Dhabi on Monday, it was a symbol of a large change for the Middle East.
Since the country of Israel was created in 1948, Israel has been surrounded by Arab countries which dislike it being there. Only two Arab nations – Egypt and Jordan – have officially made peace with Israel.
Most of the countries in the region are Arab countries, where the language is Arabic and most of the people are Muslims. Arab countries have long resented Israel for many reasons, including its treatment of the Palestinians. This has kept tensions in the region very high.
Though some countries, such as Iran, are seen as strong enemies of Israel, not all Arab countries share this level of distrust and dislike.
Importantly, no matter what their differences were, most Arab states have stuck to an agreement not to work with Israel until Israel gives up some of the land it took, and Palestine can become its own country.
That began to change on August 13, when the White House announced that the UAE and Israel had agreed to “normalize” relations between the two countries. Though the UAE and Israel weren’t fighting, the move marks a big change. Now the UAE seems to be choosing a different path than other Arab countries.
The deal was brought about through talks led by the United States. The organization of these talks was largely led by Jared Kushner, the son-in-law of US President Donald Trump.
One big change brought by the agreement is that Israel will drop a plan to permanently take control of much of the West Bank. The new agreement also brings other advantages for both sides.
For Israel, it will mean a chance to sell things to the UAE, which is a wealthy country. Also, the UAE is setting an example that could cause other Arab countries to change their minds, too.
The UAE will now be able to share in some of Israel’s advanced technology and medical knowledge. The UAE also hopes to be able to buy more weapons from the US as a result of the deal.
Not everyone likes the new agreement. Palestinians are angry about it. Many Arabs feel like the UAE has left them for the other side without even thinking about the Palestinians. They believe the move makes all the other Arab countries weaker.
Though the agreement is being promoted as a new peace deal, some Israelis point out that Israel and the UAE weren’t enemies before. Some people believe Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is trying to distract from the many problems he has at home, including the criminal charges he faces.
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The agreement between the two countries could become official in early September. Monday’s flight is proof that both countries are eager to move ahead with their new relationship.
Note: This article attempts to explain the background for this event in simple terms. But it’s a good idea to keep in mind that these issues are actually very complicated, and there are many important points that haven’t been covered here.
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