El Al Flight 555 carrying American and Israeli diplomats is the first direct flight after Morocco announced normalization with Israel.
By Paul Shindman, World Israel News
Israel and Morocco marked the breakthrough in diplomatic relations Tuesday with the first direct flight of Israel’s national airline, bringing a diplomatic delegation from Tel Aviv to the Moroccan capital of Rabat.
“The historic EL AL flight LY555 took off this morning from Israel’s Ben Gurion intl airport to Rabat, Morocco. Onboard it, a senior Israel and American delegation and the hopes of the entire nation for the successful promotion of the new Israeli Moroccan friendship,” Israel’s Foreign Ministry tweeted.
The American delegation included President Trump’s senior advisor and son in law, Jared Kushner, and White House Assistant to the President and Special Representative for International Negotiations Avi Berkowitz, who tweeted: “Another historic first flight with the team.”
Kushner and Berkowitz played key roles behind the scenes in paving the way for the Abraham Accords that were signed in September. Berkowitz tweeted a video of himself and Kushner on the plane as the captain announced the flight to the passengers.
Earlier this month, Trump announced that Israel and Morocco agreed to normalize relations, the fourth Arab-Israel agreement in four months following Israel’s normalization of ties with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan.
“This flight records another step in the historic peace process between the State of Israel and the Arab world,” El Al Flight 555 captain Bobby Lavi said. “I am happy to emphasize again, in the last very few months, an Israeli aircraft with an Israeli flag on its tail will land in an Arab country, and this for itself marks history in the making.”
“We wish you a pleasant flight and are looking forward for a new era of peace, salaam, shalom for all. Thank you,” the captain said.
The American diplomats arrived in Israel Monday and held talks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who praised Kushner for his “contribution to normalizing Israel’s relations with the Arab and Muslim world and for peace in the Middle East.”
“This is a groundbreaking visit that will expedite the normalization of relations between Israel and Morocco,” Netanyahu said at a press conference with Kushner on Monday in Jerusalem.
For what appeared to be safety and political reasons, the El Al flight did not fly in a direct path from Israel to Morocco that would have carried it over the Mediterranean Sea north of the coast of Libya and then through the airspace of Tunisia and Algeria – neither of which have diplomatic relations yet with Israel.
Instead, the path of the five hour and twenty-five minute flight flew north of that route, traversing parts of Greece, Italy and Spain before turning into Moroccan airspace.
“Jews have been living in Morocco for 2500 years and it’s wonderful to see the Kingdom of Morocco and the State of Israel normalizing their relations. Historic,” tweeted U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman.