Tags: Israel | Middle East | pa | uae | united

Flights to Israel Increase, PA's Regional Grip Hits Turbulence

interior of ben gurion airport in lod israel
(Vadim Lerner)

By Thursday, 11 June 2020 02:47 PM Current | Bio | Archive

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, Israel has shut down its air space and airports to almost every airline.

On those few flights that do make it to Ben Gurion Airport in Lod, only Israelis are permitted entry into Israel.

And after arrival, every Israeli must quarantine for 14 days.

For months, no foreigners have been permitted entry into Israel, unless you are the secretary of state or the foreign minister of a friendly nation.

From the pandemic's start, only two airlines continued to fly to Israel on a daily basis.

They are United Airlines, flying from Newark, New Jersey and Ethiopian Air flying from Addis Adaba.

More airlines, exclusively carrying Israeli passengers into Israel, have just resumed flights to Israel. They include Delta, Air Canada and Wizz (a brand new streamlined Hungarian airline.)

Wizz specializes in short hops, city to city, within Europe.

Their business model is akin to Spirit or Frontier, meaning no frills air service.

Wizz specializes in short distances within Europe for business travelers. Tel Aviv has more than the critical mass of "business people" travelling to Europe — so it is now on the Wizz map.

United from Newark into Tel Aviv is easy to understand — but Ethiopian Air?

Ethiopia is the centerpiece of Israeli business in Africa.

From Ethiopia, an Israeli CEO can hop anywhere else in Africa.

Equally important, but not well touted, is that the Mossad is extremely active in Africa, often under the guise of business and Ethiopia is their point of entry.

Now it all makes sense.

Another airline has just begun routes to Israel.

For the second time in two weeks, the United Arab Emirates has sent a direct flight to Israel. Those planes are not as welcome as the others.

It is not the Israelis who are shunning them, it is the Palestinians.

EtihadAir has been sending planes carrying crucial supplies intended for the Palestinian Authority. The second plane to arrive carried fourteen tons of medical supplies intended to help the Palestinian Authority fight Coronavirus.

But the Palestinian Authority (PA) refused to accept the aid from the flight.

The PA had already refused the supplies that were sent on the first plane. Those supplies are not accounted for.

No one can say where the first set of medical materials went.

The reason Palestinian Prime Minister Abbas rejected the aid is because the UAE flights flew directly into Ben Gurion Airport in Israel. They were both official Etihad Air flights, but rather than carrying passengers, these flights carried cargo.

And they were both unmarked so as not to raise suspicions in the Mid East skies.

The Palestinians have tried to explain why they refused to accept and barely acknowledged a gift of about 30 tons of humanitarian Coronavirus aid that included ten ventilators presented to them by an Arab country.

They have given a reason for why they rejected the gifts not once, but twice, that were flown from Abu Dhabi to Tel Aviv on Etihad Air.

They said, "We refused the aid from the UAE because it wasn’t coordinated through us or any of our systems."

At a press briefing in Bethlehem to explain their decision, Palestinian Health Minister Mai Alkaila put it this way, "We are an authority and have our sovereignty and we can’t accept such aid without coordinating with us."

The real reason for rejecting the aid had nothing to do with coordination.

The bottom line is that the PA cannot condone that the UAE is flying into Israel, because by flying into Israel the UAE is, de facto, signaling their recognition of the Jewish State.

The arrival of UAE flights in Tel Aviv means recognition of Israel by yet another Arab country. From the perspective of Palestinian leadership this is another example of the loosening of control that Palestinians once had on the Arab world vis-a-vis Israel.

Once upon a time, when the PA asked the Arab world to shun Israel, they did.

They did it out of respect for the Palestinian Authority.

That respect has eroded.

The strangle hold that the Palestinians had on Arabs to reject Israel until their wish list is fulfilled is crumbling fast.

For the United Arab Emirates, sending aid to the Palestinians was a simple humanitarian gesture with an added twist. Etihad in Arabic means "united."

The Emirates are ideally positioned to help the Palestinians while at the same time gain from interaction with Israel.

They are a collection of seven emirates united under one leadership.

The UAE has a population of 9.2 people, but almost everyone is a foreign worker.

Of the 9.2 million people living in the United Arab Emirates, only 1.4 million are citizens.

The UAE flying into Israel and helping the Palestinians should have been a win-win-win for all three parties.

Now, it’s just a win-win.

Palestinian leadership keeps making mistake after mistake.

And the Palestinian people continue to bear the burden of their folly.

Micah Halpern is a political and foreign affairs commentator. He founded "The Micah Report" and hosts "Thinking Out Loud with Micah Halpern" a weekly TV program and "My Chopp" a daily radio spot. A dynamic speaker, he specializes in analyzing world events and evaluating their relevance and impact. Follow him on Twitter @MicahHalpern. Read Micah Halpern's Reports — More Here.

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The arrival of UAE flights in Tel Aviv means recognition of Israel by yet another Arab country. From the perspective of Palestinian leadership this is another example of the loosening of control that Palestinians once had on the Arab world vis-a-vis Israel.
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2020-47-11
Thursday, 11 June 2020 02:47 PM
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