Israel media hails 'flight of peace' to UAE

Jerusalem (AFP) –


The Israeli press gave an emotional thumbs-up Tuesday to the first commercial flight of an Israeli aircraft direct to the United Arab Emirates across Saudi Arabia.

"The flight of peace" was the front page headline in the top-selling Yediot Aharonot daily, alongside a picture of an Emirati official clad in a white traditional thobe, standing by the cabin door of El Al flight 971.

Clearly visible was the word "peace" written in Arabic, English and Hebrew above the cockpit window.

"No matter how we look at it, from the right or from the left, this is a fascinating historic event. Set your cynicism aside," the paper's Smadar Pery wrote in a commentary.

On the paper's op-ed page Ben-Dor Yemini called the occasion "a festive day for Israel".

Scattered across four inside pages of coverage were headlines including "The peace flight, "Warm embrace" and "Hevenu shalom aleichem" (We brought you peace) the title of a traditional Hebrew folk song.

"Salaam Aleikum" (Peace be upon you) was the headline in the rival Maariv newspaper, the traditional Arabic greeting transliterated into Hebrew.

"For a few hours the spotlight moved from the battle against the coronavirus, from arguments within the government and from the growing demonstrations (against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu)," it said.

"An Israeli-American delegation landed in an El Al plane at Abu Dhabi airport and was received with warmth."

No less enthusiastic was the pro-Netanyahu freesheet Israel Hayom, the daily with the country's highest circulation.

"Peace Without Masks" was its slightly enigmatic front-page headline, apparently in contrast to its other top story, on children starting the new school year under coronavirus restrictions.

"In public and in broad daylight the Israeli flag flies on the soil of an Arab country," the paper said.

In a piece, entitled "A tectonic shift in relations between Israel and Arab world," commentator Ariel Kahana hailed a quickening normalisation.

"Israel made a giant leap forward on Monday in its effort to integrate in the region and be just like any other country."

"The hostility and the boycotts are now a thing of the past, a new era of cooperation and friendship has begun."

The right-wing paper also reflected on the anger felt by Palestinians, who see the Israel-UAE deal as a betrayal by a major player in the Arab world, which has largely held that normalisation with Israel is workable only once the Palestinian question has been resolved.

In a commentary entitled "The Palestinians Have been Left Utterly on their Own", Middle East historian Eyal Zisser argued that their troubles were self-inflicted.

"They prefer to remain committed to dreams that are never going to come true and to anger, disappointment and frustration that are never going to get them anywhere," he said.

"It takes courage to make peace. It is far easier to remain stuck on a dead-end road with no way out."