This unmarked Etihad cargo jet arrived at Ben-Gurion Airport at around 9 p.m. on May 19. (Screenshot/Twitter)

All Sides Playing Down Role of Israel Landing by UAE Cargo Plane

The only official word came from Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways, which had to notify Israeli air traffic controllers that one of its planes was heading to Tel Aviv’s Ben-Gurion Airport. It was a pure white cargo plane, wiped clean of any markings tying it to the airline or the UAE, and aboard was some 16 tons of supplies aimed at helping the Palestinian Authority confront the coronavirus epidemic in the West Bank. Although it was, apparently, the first direct flight between the two countries by a commercial aircraft, no champagne glasses were hauled out. The only word by a government official came from the Israeli ambassador to the United Nations, who tweeted the news, adding: “Hopefully soon, we will see passenger flights, too.” In fact, most of the official chatter seems to have come from officials at the world body, whose Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process (UNSCO) may have helped coordinate the move. A statement it issued, similar to a statement attributed to a UAE diplomat at the UN, made no mention of the landing in Israel.

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