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Etihad Airways removes advert featuring Second Jewish Temple

Promotional video was part of announcement that airline will start operating flights between Abu Dhabi and Tel Aviv
Screengrab of Etihad Airways' promotional video, subsequently removed, showing a drawing of Jerusalem's Second Temple as one of Israel's landmarks (Twitter\@etihad)

Etihad Airways has removed a video advertisement that featured a drawing of the Second Jewish Temple as one of several historical and cultural sites to visit in Israel, soon after negative stories began being published in the Arabic media.

It came as the Abu Dhabi-based airline launched direct flights from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) capital to Tel Aviv.

The Second Jewish Temple, which was destroyed by the Romans in AD70, is widely believed to have stood where the Al-Aqsa compound is today. Unlike other ancient sites in the country, little of it remains.

However, the holy Western Wall is thought to be a supporting foundation, and is the most revered site in Judaism.

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Known by Jews as the Temple Mount, the site was used by Jerusalemite Christians as a rubbish dump following the Temple's destruction, believing the area was cursed, until the Umayyad Caliphate conquered the city in the late seventh century and built the Dome of Rock shrine and Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Claims on the site are contentious. Since Israel occupied East Jerusalem in 1967, an uneasy status quo has been enforced, with the Islamic sites on the Al-Aqsa compound administered by Jordan.

But a far-right Israeli movement has begun gaining traction advocating the Al-Aqsa Mosque's destruction in favour of a Third Jewish Temple. Some Palestinians deny the Second Temple stood at the site, and any archaeological work by either side is highly controversial and politicised.

Normalisation

The promotional video was part of the announcement made by Eithad Airways on Monday that it will start operating flights between Abu Dhabi and Tel Aviv on 28 March 2021. 

The UAE and Bahrain signed a normalisation agreement with Israel on 15 September, and since then have announced various deals in commerce, sport and shipping. 

Titled "Visit Tel Aviv", the video showcased several of the city's beaches, and promoted the Second Temple along with salt and mud from the Dead Sea.

Middle East Eye has contacted Eithad Airways for comment.

This article is available in French on Middle East Eye French edition.