President TrumpDonald TrumpJulian Castro knocks Biden administration over refugee policy Overnight Energy & Environment — League of Conservation Voters — Climate summit chief says US needs to 'show progress' on environment Five takeaways from Arizona's audit results MORE’s son-in-law and adviser Jared KushnerJared Corey KushnerHouse panel tees up Trump executive privilege fight in Jan. 6 probe The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - US prepares vaccine booster plan House panel probing Jan. 6 attack seeks Trump records MORE and national security adviser Robert O’Brien served as part of a delegation on the first commercial flight from Israel to the United Arab Emirates, The Associated Press reported.
The U.S. delegation also included U.S. envoy for Iran Brian Hook and envoy for Middle Eastern affairs Avi Berkowitz. Israeli national security adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat and several Israeli ministries’ directors general were also present on the flight.
“While this is a historic flight, we hope that this will start an even more historic journey for the Middle East and beyond,” Kushner told reporters ahead of the flight.
“This morning the traditional greeting of ‘go in peace’ takes on a special significance for us,” Ben-Shabbat added, saying the trip was intended to strengthen cooperation on tourism, medicine, technology and trade policy.
Kushner told reporters traveling aboard the flight that he was hopeful the trip would be symbolic that "peace is possible." The agreement between the Israelis and the UAE "has the ability to change the whole course of the Middle East," he added, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Although Saudi Arabia typically maintains a policy of boycotting Israel in support of Palestinians, the flight was permitted to pass over Riyadh en route to the UAE. The flight, which took just over three hours, would have taken more than seven hours without permission to enter Saudi airspace.
The normalization of relations between Israel and the UAE has caused dismay among Palestinians, who worry lack of solidarity among all Arab nations will prevent efforts to secure statehood, Reuters reported.
America is “scrambling to convince as many Arab and Muslim leaders as possible” to boost President Trump’s re-election, said Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s executive committee, according to Reuters.
“They will be a prop at the backdrop of a meaningless spectacle for a ridiculous agreement that will not bring peace to the region,” she said.
The Trump administration has attempted to broker similar negotiations between Israel and other Sunni Arab nations, citing their mutual enmity with Iran. Despite Saudi Arabia opening its airspace, the kingdom has signaled it is not prepared to discuss normalized relations.
Updated at 11:22 a.m.