The Times of Israel liveblogged Monday’s events as they happened.
El Al flight LY971 has passed over Riyadh and is approaching the airspace of the UAE, according to flight-tracking radar.
The charter flight is the first commercial Israeli jetliner to openly use Saudi Arabian airspace.
It is set to reach the UAE’s airspace in the coming moments and will land in about 25 minutes.
The El Al flight to the UAE flew right over Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, according to online flight charts.
Even without landing for an intermediate stop, it's an amazing flight that was in Riyadh air controllers' supervision.
The El Al pilots know the way to Riyadh. pic.twitter.com/m23kpQ6KV7
— Lenny Ben-David (@lennybendavid) August 31, 2020
El Al flight LY971 from Tel Aviv to Abu Dhabi has left Saudi airspace and is now over the UAE, according to flight tracking technology.
The flight skirted the UAE-Saudi border for several minutes before finally crossing over.
The Gaza Strip has seen 69 new cases of the novel coronavirus in the past 24 hours, Hamas health spokesperson Ashraf al-Qidra says. Gaza’s total number of active cases outside of quarantine centers now stands at 280.
Around 10% of tests are coming back positive, a dangerous sign for the future of the fight against COVID-19 in the coastal enclave. According to the World Health Organization, a positive return rate of less than 5% is a necessary benchmark for demonstrating that the pandemic is under control in a given country.
Hamas health officials have said that Gaza’s frail health system cannot handle more than 2,000 active cases. A Hamas-initiated lockdown that began last Tuesday is due to expire tomorrow but will likely be extended.
A spokesperson for the Hamas Interior Ministry says that many businesses in the Gaza Strip have had their licenses revoked after opening, and that earlier exceptions for some stores are being rescinded to prevent the spread of the virus.
Rising tensions between Hamas and Israel could also affect Gaza’s battle with coronavirus. In recent weeks, Gaza-based groups have launched hundreds of explosive balloons into Israeli territory, causing widespread fires in areas around the Strip.
In response, Israel has conducted nightly airstrikes and closed the Kerem Shalom commercial crossing with Gaza to fuel. As a result, Gaza’s only power plant shut down two weeks ago. Much of Gaza — including hospitals — receives as little as four hours of electricity a day.
Four Gazans have died so far from the virus.
— Aaron Boxerman
British authorities say 16 coronavirus cases have been linked to a flight that brought UK tourists back from Greece, and everyone aboard has been told to isolate themselves for two weeks.
Public Health Wales says it is contacting almost 200 people who were aboard the Tui flight from the Greek island of Zante to Cardiff, Wales, on Tuesday.
Gwen Lowe of Public Health Wales says 30 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in the last week among people who returned from Zante on several flights. She says the number is expected to rise.
Israel recently upped the number of tourists it says can visit Greece weekly, to 1,200. It is on a list of countries that Israel exempts from quarantine guidelines for returning travelers.
— with AP
Lebanese President Michel Aoun asked Lebanon’s ambassador to Germany, Mustapha Adib, to form a new government after he secured 90 votes in the 128-member parliament.
Adib tells reporters his number one priority will be to quickly form a government able to implement crucial reforms to regain the trust of the Lebanese and international community.
His appointment comes weeks after a devastating explosion in Beirut. The country is also mired in a severe economic crisis.
The historic El Al flight from Tel Aviv to Abu Dhabi has seemingly strayed from its flight path and entered Oman from the UAE for several minutes before crossing back into the Emirates.
It is unclear if the plane is making an unscheduled stop, or if perhaps the deviation was for diplomatic reasons to show off warming ties with Muscat.
The El Al flight has turned toward Abu Dhabi (or Dubai?) after appearing to make another pass over Oman.
Ynet reporter and plane watcher Itay Blumenthal writes on Twitter that the plane did not actually cross into Oman’s airspace.
לא. אוויר זה קצת שונה pic.twitter.com/1IiVzL90z6
— איתי בלומנטל Itay Blumental (@ItayBlumental) August 31, 2020
The flight is set to land in about 10 minutes.
UAE-based The National says two people are dead in a gas cylinder explosion at a KFC restaurant near the Abu Dhabi airport.
Officials blame the explosion on improperly placed cylinder fittings following refilling.
A separate explosion in nearby Dubai this morning killed one person. Authorities also blamed that on a gas cylinder accident.
As the plane flew right by Riyadh, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke with a member of his staff who was aboard.
A few minutes later, the message was played over the plane’s PA system but it was totally inaudible.
Shortly before landing, White House aide Jared Kushner gives a long briefing, saying US President Donald Trump and Netanyahu “will discuss” the F35 deal with the UAE, and that Netanyahu greatly trusts the president. He says Israel’s qualitative military edge will be maintained.
“In America we have something called the QME, that obviously helps us work with Israel. But with UAE we have 35 years’ relationship. Part of that deal is bringing everyone together and everyone forward,” he says.
— Raphael Ahren
In a historic first, an El Al plane from Tel Aviv has landed in Abu Dhabi, according to ToI’s correspondent aboard the jet.
A video shows the Israeli plane landing in Abu Dhabi, alongside Etihad airline planes.
— Amichai Stein (@AmichaiStein1) August 31, 2020
The plane is taxiing to the official ceremony on the tarmac.
Wall Street Journal correspondent Dov Lieber posts pictures from the plane over Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
El Al plane flying over Saudi (right) and UAE (left) pic.twitter.com/FoxhJWw0DN
— Dov Lieber (@DovLieber) August 31, 2020
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office releases a video of him speaking to a member of the Israeli delegation on the plane, excitedly celebrating the “historic” day.
“You made the first open flight over Saudi Arabia on the way to make historic peace with the UAE,” he says, emphasizing the word “open.”
“I always believed we could make peace for peace,” he says, repeating his mantra.
He says the peace will benefit the whole region and will “leave an impression for generations.”
התרגשתי לשוחח בטלפון עם המשלחת הישראלית לאבו דאבי בדרך לעשיית שלום היסטורי.
אחרי מאמצים אדירים שהובלתי במשך שנים, סוף כל סוף הבאנו ״שלום תמורת שלום״. ???????????????????? pic.twitter.com/W5apdskHuo
— Benjamin Netanyahu (@netanyahu) August 31, 2020
US officials are beginning to disembark from the El Al plane in Abu Dhabi, including special envoy Avi Berkowitz and National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien.
Jared Kushner also disembarks, as well as Israeli National Security Council head Meir Ben-Shabbat.
You can watch the ceremony here:
#LIVE: First Israeli-UAE direct flight lands with US and Israeli officials for meetings with Emirati counterparts
פורסם על ידי Arab News ב- יום שני, 31 באוגוסט 2020
Jared Kushner gives a short speech, thanking Mohammed bin Zayed, the UAE’s de facto ruler, as well as Saudi Arabia, for allowing the Israeli plane to fly over its airspace.
He quips that they wanted the plane to fly faster so they could get there sooner to celebrate the normalized ties.
“While this peace is forged by its leaders it is overwhelmingly desired by its people,” he says.
Kushner slams what he says are the few who are opposed to the deal.
“They exploit division to maintain power,” he says.
Says Kushner: “The Middle East is filled with brilliant, industrious, tolerant and innovative people, and the future belongs to them. I ask everyone today to join us in celebrating this peace, and to help us expand it throughout the region and the entire world.”
Speaking after Robert O’Brien, Israeli counterpart Meir Ben Shabbat gives a speech in Arabic.
“I am extremely proud to be here as the head of the Israeli delegation. We are here to transform a vision into reality. There is no border to the potential cooperation between us in innovation, in tourism, in agriculture, in aviation, in many other fields…part of making peace among all peoples in the region,” he says.
Switching to Hebrew, he thanks Trump, Jared Kushner and O’Brien on behalf of Netanyahu and gives essentially the same address.
Speaking to the press, Jared Kushner again talks up the opportunities of the Israel-UAE relationship, and mentions his grandparents’ experiences in the Holocaust.
“We’re all sons of the same God, so for me to fly over here is a great honor,” he says.
In response to a question from a reporter, Jared Kushner says the US has done a lot to help the Palestinians reach peace, but they are not ready.
“We can’t want peace more than they want peace. When they are ready, the whole region is very excited to help lift them up and help move them forward. But they can’t be stuck in the past.”
“Peace will be ready for them … as soon as they are ready to embrace it.”
He defends the possible US sale of F-35 jets to the UAE, mentioning the 35-year-old security relationship, and Iran and the Islamic State.
“The military relationship America has with the UAE is very special just like the relationship between Israel and America.”
He says the US can maintain Israel’s military edge while still selling arms to the UAE.
Palestinian officials have condemned the Israeli-American joint delegation to Abu Dhabi, which brought American and Israeli officials to the UAE for talks following the normalization deal today.
Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh calls the direct flight between Israel and the UAE “a clear and shameful break with the Arab position” on normalizing relations with Israel.
“It was our hope to see an Emirati plane land in a liberated Jerusalem…It pains us to see an Israeli plane land in the United Arab Emirates,” Shtayyeh says.
— Aaron Boxerman
A spokesperson for the Gaza-based terror group Hamas condemns the delegation as serving “the Zionist interest” in “creating divisions” in the region.
“This visit is tantamount to stabbing the Palestinian people in the back, a consecration of the occupation, a betrayal of the [Palestinian] people’s resistance, and a conspiracy against their struggle,” the terror group says.
— Aaron Boxerman
Balloon-borne incendiary devices launched from the Gaza Strip caused at least seven fires in southern Israel throughout the day, the fire department says.
The brush fires are all located in the Eshkol region, east of southern Gaza. Fire and Rescue Services says they are small and do not pose a threat to nearby communities.
The ongoing airborne arson attacks come as Israel and terror groups in the Strip negotiate a ceasefire through third parties.
— Judah Ari Gross
Israeli National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat is meeting with United Arab Emirates Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar bin Mohammed Gargash in Abu Dhabi, along with US Presidential Adviser Jared Kushner, the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office says in a statement.
A picture shows US National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien in the room as well.
Ivanka Trump posts a video on Twitter showing her husband Jared Kushner and National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien giddily awaiting takeoff on the El Al flight to Abu Dhabi.
In the background, special envoy for peace Avi Berkowitz waves at the camera and claps along.
Masks are apparently in short supply on the flight, at least among American officials, in contravention of Israeli rules and El Al rules.
— Ivanka Trump (@IvankaTrump) August 31, 2020
Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Lior Haiat confirms that regular direct flights between Israel and the UAE will be on the agenda of meetings between officials Monday and Tuesday.
The flights are seen as a key to helping boost business ties between the countries.
While Monday’s El Al flight was billed as the first commercial flight from Tel Aviv to Abu Dhabi, it was actually a private charter and there are currently no known plans for Israeli or Emirati airlines to inaugurate routes between the countries.
It’s not known if Saudi Arabia would agree to regular overflights. Without Saudi approval, the three-hour flight would take closer to eight hours.
Haiat tells al-Arabiya that “we may have more information tomorrow.”
— with Raphael Ahren
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office says he will make a diplomatic announcement at 6:15 p.m.
Netanyahu will take questions at the press conference, a rarity.
US casino magnate Sheldon Adelson is in talks to buy the former US ambassador’s residence in Herzliya for some NIS 300 million ($89 million), which would be the priciest real estate purchase in the country’s history, financial daily Globes reports.
According to the report, which cites unnamed sources, US officials want the deal to close before the presidential election in November, to make it seem as if the US embassy cannot move back to Tel Aviv.
The palatial seaside residence sits on a 1.2 acre lot on one of the country’s most expensive streets in the leafy Tel Aviv suburb. Since the embassy moved to Jerusalem, where ambassador David Friedman already has a home, the residence is no longer needed.
Adelson, a major donor to US president Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign, was reportedly a main catalyst pushing for the embassy to be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
The Tel Aviv embassy remains an embassy; officially it is a branch of the Jerusalem building, which used to be a consulate.
Coronavirus czar Ronni Gamzu is digging in his heels against the opening of schools in areas with high morbidity rates.
“I don’t believe schools will open tomorrow in ‘red’ cities, I don’t think the Education Ministry would do that. I didn’t compromise on schooling in ‘red’ cities, and I don’t think I need to compromise,” he says, referring to his color-coded plan that rates cities by infection numbers to determine appropriate policies.
Ministers on Sunday specifically excluded the plan from determining school policy and Education Minister Yoav Gallant has insisted school will open as planned everywhere.
Gamzu says talks with the ministry are ongoing to “solve this shameful problem.”
The deadly stabbing in Petah Tikva in which Rabbi Shai Ohayon was killed was a terror attack, the Shin Bet security service says, confirming earlier suspicions.
“In a joint investigation by the Shin Bet and Israel Police it was determined that the assailant acquired a knife and carried out the attack from nationalist motives,” the security service says.
According to the Shin Bet, the suspected terrorist — Khalil Abd al-Khaliq Dweikat, 46, of Rujeeb in the northern West Bank — had a legal work permit, but it claims he was in violation of it during the time of the attack.
“The assailant had a work permit for Israel under which he was allowed to work in Israel and return home each day to the area where he lived in the West Bank. The assailant violated this condition of the permit by remaining in Israel for several days in a row ahead of the attack,” the security service says.
However, at the time of the attack, Palestinians were not permitted to cross back and forth daily due to special pandemic rules in place.
Asked about the discrepancy, a Shin Bet spokesperson says “that’s not something we deal with.”
The Shin Bet vets Palestinian workers to make sure they are not a security threat and defense officials have proudly pointed to the fact that very few attacks over the years have been attributed to workers holding permits.
— Judah Ari Gross
Train service near Sderot has stopped after a balloon with a suspected incendiary device lands on the tracks, according to Hebrew media reports.
Balloons launched from Gaza have been blamed for several fires in the area so far Monday.
British authorities scrambled fighter jets to intercept a Ryanair plane after the crew reported a suspicious object, which turned out to be a mobile phone in a bathroom.
The Royal Air Force says that two Typhoon aircraft were launched from a base in eastern England to escort the passenger plane on Sunday evening.
Police say a man from Kuwait and a man from Italy were arrested by counterterrorism officers after the flight from Vienna to Stansted airport, near London.
Both men were released without charge on Monday after a suspicious object discovered in one of the plane’s toilets was examined and “found not to be of concern,” the police Eastern Region Special Operations Unit said. It said the object was a phone.
“We understandably take any reports of suspicious objects or behavior on flights very seriously and thankfully on this occasion there was no cause for concern,” says Detective Superintendent Andy Waldie, head of counterterrorism policing for the eastern region of England.
Benjamin Netanyahu begins speaking, saying that it is a “historic day,” and announces that a delegation from the UAE has been invited to visit Israel.
“We’ll give them the same red carpet they gave us,” he says.
He does not say if they accepted the offer.
Netanyahu quotes from his own-decades old book in which he predicted that Israel would lead a revolution in the Middle East, allowing it to flower from warm bilateral ties with regional neighbors.
He repeats his stance that peace does not necessarily require concessions, and says he has worked toward this goal since writing the book.
“We’ve turned Israel into a very strong state,” he says, noting its economic successes and his own deregulation policies.
He also cites his battle against the Iran nuclear program and Iran nuclear deal.
“There’s much I still cannot tell you, it will come out eventually” he says regarding Israel’s ties with the Gulf and hints at a Saudi okay for overflights of planes from Israel, rattling off all his trips to Middle Eastern countries and meetings with regional leaders.
“I’ve asked the delegation to work as fast as possible to nail down the peace deal with the UAE,” he says.
Netanyahu claims that the peace with the UAE will be a “warm peace.”
He somehow segues into speaking about Tuesday’s school opening, saying that it will have difficulties, but “I’m sure we can overcome these problems.”
“This is a great achievement for Israel,” he says, though it’s unclear if he is referring to opening schools or a flight to the UAE.
The speech ends without any actual diplomatic announcement.
Netanyahu says that US National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien told him that “the US is absolutely committed to keeping the Israeli military edge. We’ve done this for years, we’ll for sure continue to do this now.”
He adds that that’s all he can say for now, expressing worries about putting the cart before the horse.
Cabinet secretary Tzachi Braverman tells Army Radio that a security delegation will head to the UAE within two or three weeks.
The comment may hint at a possible resolution of a dispute between Israel, the US and the UAE over Washington’s proposed sale of F-35 fighter jets to Abu Dhabi.
According to reports, a security delegation, which was supposed to be part of a flight Monday, was pushed off due to the ongoing dispute.
The US has pledged to maintain an Israeli qualitative military edge over any other country in the region, meaning the UAE could not have the same class of fighter jet as Israel.
Presidential adviser Jared Kushner seemed to indicate to the press from Abu Dhabi earlier that selling the jets to the UAE would not necessarily damage Israel’s military edge.
Four people have been killed in a collision between an Israeli bus and a Palestinian car in the northern West Bank.
Two men, aged 30 and 50, a 30-year-old woman and a child, 6, are all pronounced dead after the accident, according to Israeli first responders. A fifth person has been taken to a hospital in critical condition
The accident occurs on Route 55, near the Palestinian town of Azzun.
Pictures published by Maan show the Palestinian car T-boned by the Israeli bus.
The reason for the crash is not immediately clear. Israeli police say an investigation has been opened.
The Health Ministry has released a list of what it says are “red cities” by the traffic light rubric approved by ministers on Sunday, though the plan will not go into effect until next week.
Most of the towns are Arab-majority locales as well as some ultra-Orthodox cities.
The list includes: Tiberias, Beitar Ilit, Jatt, Umm al-Fahm, Immanuel, Kafr Qasem, Kafr Kara, Tira and the Shaar Hanegev Regional Council, as well as others.
The Foreign Ministry says talks are underway for the UAE and Israel to open embassies on each others’ soil.
“The sides discussed the possibility of mutual opening of embassies and signing bilateral agreements to advance ties between the countries,” a statement reads.
The US ambassador to the UAE is also involved in the talks, the ministry says.
“We are at the start of a historic process and we intend to advance as quickly as possible the establishment of full ties and opening embassies in both countries which will act to bolster cooperation between Israel and the UAE,” says Foreign Ministry Director Alon Ushpiz, who is leading the effort.
There is no comment on official Emirati channels.
The Health Ministry has yet to publish updated numbers of coronavirus infections, hospitalizations and deaths, despite nearly two hours passing since the normal reporting time.
No reason is given for the delay.
Earlier, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he does not think Israel needs to reimpose a lockdown until the country reaches 700 to 800 serious cases. In May, he announced that a lockdown could return once Israel hit 250 serious cases.
As of Monday morning, there are 453 patients in serious condition, and the number has been steadily climbing every day. The number of hospitalized patients is nearing 1,000.
Finance Minister Israel Katz is accusing former budget chief Shaul Meridor of telling “crass lies” and misleading the public with a sharply worded resignation letter.
“He heard I was going to fire him so he ran and wrote a resignation letter in an hour full of garbage,” he tells Channel 12.
He says he even checked with a lawyer about suing Meridor over the letter.
Merdidor quit on Sunday with a highly publicized missive accusing Katz and other politicians of crossing red lines by politicizing fiduciary decisions, to the detriment of the citizenry.
Katz also says that bureaucrats have plenty of time to work on a budget for 2020, after the channel reported that work on the long-delayed budget has yet to begin.
Despite coronavirus czar Ronni Gamzu saying school in high infection zones cannot open, Education Minister Yoav Gallant says he is forging ahead with his plan to open all schools on Tuesday morning.
“I promised it and I made it happen, classes will begin tomorrow and will happen as normal in every educational institution according to our secure learning plan,” he says, according to Walla news.
Opposition chief Yair Lapid attacks the government over the confusion wrought by the warring officials. “Twelve hours before the start of school and there are kids who still don’t know if they are going or not,” he says.
A Florida man who called himself “the Antifa hunter” as he waged an online campaign to terrorize and harass those who opposed his white supremacist ideology has been sentenced to more than three years in prison.
Daniel McMahon, 32, of Brandon, Florida, pleaded guilty in April to using social media to threaten a Black activist to deter the man from running for office in Charlottesville, Virginia. McMahon also admitted that he threatened to sexually assault the young autistic daughter of a woman who protested against white nationalists.
When FBI agents searched the home that McMahon shared with his parents, they seized his computer and several loaded guns from his bedroom. On his computer, investigators found folders filled with evidence of his harassment campaigns and tokens of his obsession with racially motivated killings, prosecutors said.
Most of McMahon’s cyberstalking victims knew him as “Jack Corbin.” Under that pseudonym, he posted social media messages intended to deter a Black activist, Don Gathers, from running for a seat on Charlottesville’s city council. He called himself “the Antifa hunter,” a reference to anti-fascist, leftist militant activists who confront or resist neo-Nazis and white supremacists at demonstrations.
French President Emmanuel Macron has landed in Beirut for his second visit since the city was rocked by a massive explosion.
Macron’s visit comes hours after the country’s president nominated Mustapha Adib, Lebanon’s ambassador to Germany, to be the new prime minister.
— with AFP
The Hamas terror group has announced that it is de-escalating tensions on the Gaza border in return for certain easements to deal with the coronavirus pandemic, the Gaza-based Shehab news agency reports.
“A number of projects that serve our people in the Gaza Strip will be announced and will contribute to alleviating it in light of the coronavirus wave that has befallen the Gaza Strip, as well as a return to the pre-escalation situation,” Hamas says, according to Shehab.
It says the deal was brokered by Qatari envoy Mohammed el-Amadi.
There is no immediate confirmation from Israel or Qatari sources on the Gaza ceasefire deal.
Israel typically refuses to confirm talks or agreements with the terror group.
The agreement comes as the coronavirus pandemic has taken hold across the Strip, with infection numbers rising by dozens a day.
Walla news reports that Israeli security sources are confirming that understandings have been reached with Hamas over Gaza violence, but as is standard, they say they will wait to see if the Palestinian terror group keeps up its end of the bargain.
“We’ll wait to see the situation,” a source is quoted saying.
Two teachers in Jerusalem and the Golan Heights have fallen ill with COVID-19, prompting two schools to close their doors on the day the school year began.
Some 2.4 million students went back to school on Tuesday, while highly infected areas were instructed to keep their schools closed, for now.
Not all have heeded the Health Ministry order, however, with at least one school in Beitar Illit and schools in neighborhoods of East Jerusalem with high infection rates opening in defiance of the health regulations.