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UAE flying second plane to Israel, delivering medical aid to Palestinians

The cargo flight is a sign of strengthening diplomatic ties between the two countries
A banner showing the flags of the UAE and Palestine while medical aid was unloaded from an Etihad plane at Israel's Tel Aviv airport on 20 May (Screengrab)

An official United Arab Emirates (UAE) plane will land on Tuesday in Israel's Tel Aviv airport delivering a shipment of medical aid to Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and the besieged Gaza Strip, according to reports in Kan news.

This is the second Emirati plane to fly from Abu Dhabi to Israel in less than a month, a sign of strengthening diplomatic ties between the two countries.

The flight was coordinated by Israel’s foreign ministry and the civil administration in the occupied West Bank, a body within the Israeli army that runs civil matters, the Kan report said.

In May, an Etihad cargo plane made a direct flight from Abu Dhabi to Tel Aviv to deliver humanitarian aid to Palestinians to help curb the spread of coronavirus. 

It was the first official and announced direct flight between the UAE and Israel, who do not share official ties.

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The Palestinian Authority (PA) rejected the coronavirus aid sent in May, saying that aid must be sent in coordination with the Palestinian leadership and not with Israel. 

Israel was due to participate in the World Expo 2020 in Dubai, which was postponed because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Israel's planned annexation of the Jordan Valley: Why it matters

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Israel's planned annexation of the Jordan Valley: Why it matters
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The annexation of the Jordan Valley could effectively kill whatever hopes remain for a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict as it would render completely impossible the establishment of a viable, contiguous Palestinian state.

In April, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reached an agreement with his rival Benny Gantz to form a unity government that seek to impose Israeli sovereignty over the Jordan Valley. Legislature could be discussed from 1 July.

The Jordan Valley accounts for around one-third of the occupied West Bank (almost 2,400 square kilometres), where 30 Israeli agricultural settlements house around 11,000 settlers.

Some 56,000 Palestinians also reside in the Jordan Valley, including in the city of Jericho, where their daily lives are deeply impacted by Israeli occupation policies. 

The area is rich in minerals and agricultural soil and is a highly strategic area, as it lies along the Jordanian border.

Jordan, the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah, and senior officials in the European Union openly oppose the annexation plan, while the administration of US President Donald Trump has encouraged such moves.

Palestinians and their supporters oppose "normalisation" efforts with Israel, arguing that diplomatic pressure is an essential tool to get Israel to put an end to its occupation of Palestinian territories and violation of human rights.

The UAE medical aid deliveries come at a critical time when Israel is planning parts of the West Bank, including the Jordan Valley, a controversial move that has been rejected by the PA and one that could affect ties with Jordan.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas had declared all deals with Israel null and void after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s confirmed his annexation plans.

Last week, the PA rejected the May tax payments collected on their behalf by Israel, in a new escalation to protest the plans.

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