UAE carrier Etihad Airways sent its second flight to Israel in less than a month Tuesday, carrying medical aid to help the Palestinians tackle the coronavirus pandemic, witnesses and officials said.
Jordan and Egypt aside, Arab countries have no official diplomatic ties with Israel, but Persian Gulf Arab nations have had ever more publicly warm ties with Israel of late.
In mid-May, the United Arab Emirates flew its first publicly announced flight to Israel, also an Etihad flight carrying coronavirus aid for the Palestinians.
But Tuesday’s aircraft bore for the first time the logo of the Arab carrier, a source with knowledge of the flight told AFP.
It is “the first time that a plane carrying Etihad’s marking is landing in Israel”, the source said.
Israel’s foreign affairs ministry confirmed that Tuesday’s flight was the second one to Israel from the UAE.
“It is the second direct flight from the UAE and it has medical aid for the Palestinians,” the ministry said.
The aid “will be given to the UN to distribute,” it said.
Palestinian premier Mohammed Shtayyeh said the Palestinians had not been informed about the flight.
“The Emirati plane took us by surprise, we didn’t know about it,” he told foreign journalists at the Palestinian Authority headquarters in the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah.