Israel holds secret talks with Arab leaders on normalising ties
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    Israel holds secret talks with Arab leaders on normalising ties

    Israeli officials have been involved in secret talks with Arab and Muslim leaders on normalising bilateral ties, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday on the eve of the “first direct commercial flight” between Israel and the United Arab Emirates.

    Netanyahu said he had already had talks with leaders of Sudan, Chad and Oman. While these meetings have been publicised, there “are many more unpublicised meetings with Arab and Muslim leaders” on normalising relations, he said at a press conference in Jerusalem alongside Jared Kushner, White House advisor and son-in-law of U.S. President Donald Trump.

    Netanyahu did not say which were the other countries involved in discussions with Israel.

    The Israeli Government is currently seeking to extend the normalisation agreement it signed with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on 13 August to other regional countries.

    “Today’s breakthroughs will become tomorrow’s norms,” Netanyahu said, “It will pave the way for other countries to normalise their ties with Israel.”

    For his part, Kushner described the accord with the Emirates as a “giant step” for peace in the Middle East.

    In a reflection of the will to move the normalisation forward in high gear, a U.S.-Israeli delegation left Monday morning on the first direct commercial flight between Tel Aviv and Abu Dhabi, in the UAE.

    The head of Israel’s National Security Council, Meir Ben-Shabbat, Jared Kushner and U.S. National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien, travelled on that flight, described by the parties as “historic”.

    The UAE and Israel are separated geographically by U.S. ally Saudi Arabia, which is close to the UAE but with which Israel has no official ties.

    According to the Israeli press, the El Al flight passed through Saudi air space.

    The Brussels Times