JERUSALEM – History was made on Monday when El Al flight 971 departed from Ben Gurion International Airport, headed through Saudi airspace, and landed in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates.
No Israeli civilian commercial flight had ever made such a trip before.
No delegation of senior U.S. and Israeli officials had ever made such a trip before.
No group of Israeli journalists had ever made such a trip before.
No Arab-Israeli peace treaty has been forged in more than 25 years.
As a dual U.S.-Israeli citizen, I have actually had the rare privilege to visit the UAE a number of times over the years, both Abu Dhabi and Dubai. In October 2018, I led the first-ever delegation of Evangelical Christians to the UAE to meet with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed al Nahyan and other senior UAE officials, as well as with local Christian leaders.
But I have to admit, I was a little jealous of my Israeli colleagues who were invited to go on the trip and cover this historic event, as U.S., Israeli and UAE officials worked on finalizing the details of this dramatic new peace agreement.
So, I thought it might be fun to talk with one of the Israeli journalists who did go to get the inside story.
Barak Ravid is one of – if not the – top Israeli diplomatic reporters. He’s been covering the steadily warming relations between Israel and the Gulf states in recent years. Here’s the conversation we had via Zoom.