Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday he invited a delegation from the United Arab Emirates to visit Israel.
The invitation, Netanyahu said, was extended by his national security adviser, who is heading a group of senior Israeli officials in Abu Dhabi to finalize a pact marking open relations between Israel and the Gulf state.
"We will welcome them with a red carpet as they welcomed us," Netanyahu told a news conference.
Netanyahu also said the sides are preparing a signing ceremony in Washington for the normalization deal with the United Arab Emirates.
"I held a conference call a few days ago with [U.S.] President [Donald] Trump and [UAE] Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed and today we witnessed the first Israeli commercial flight over Saudia Arabia to Abu Dhabi," said Netanyahu. "I instructed our delegation to prepare as soon as possible an official agreement that will be signed soon in Washington."
The U.S. will guarantee Israel's military edge in the region while advancing its ties to the United Arab Emirates, senior White House aide Jared Kushner said Monday as Israeli and American delegations arrived in Abu Dhabi on the first-ever commercial flight from Israel to the Gulf state.
Kushner also called on the Palestinians to return to negotiations with Israel, saying they should not be "stuck in the past."
The flight to Abu Dhabi came just weeks after the normalization deal between Israel and the UAE was announced on August 13. It was the first such accommodation between an Arab country and Israel in more than 20 years and forged largely through shared fears of Iran.
Ynet days later revealed that the agreement between Israel and the UAE, which was partly brokered by Washington, included a secret clause detailing the sale of F-35 fighter jets to the Emirates.
Palestinians were dismayed by the UAE move, worried that it would weaken a long-standing pan-Arab position that called for Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank and Gaza Strip and acceptance of Palestinian statehood in return for normal relations with Arab countries.
"They have to come to the table. Peace will be ready for them, an opportunity will be ready for them as soon as they are ready to embrace it," said Kushner, part of the U.S. delegation that accompanied Israeli officials on the flight from Tel Aviv to Abu Dhabi.
Kushner and U.S. National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien headed the U.S. delegation, while the Israeli team was led by O'Brien's counterpart, Meir Ben Shabbat.
Israel and the UAE - the Arab world's second largest economy and a regional power in its own right - were to discuss economic, scientific, trade and cultural cooperation on the visit.
Direct flights between the two countries will also be on the agenda, a Foreign Ministry spokesman told al Arabiya television after landing in Abu Dhabi.
Even before landing, the delegates made aviation history when the El Al Boeing 737 flew over Saudi territory on the direct flight from Tel Aviv to the UAE capital.
"That's what peace for peace looks like," Netanyahu tweeted in Hebrew, describing a deal for formal ties with an Arab state that does not entail handover of land that Israel captured in the 1967 Six-Day War.
Senior Palestinian official Saeb Erekat tweeted in response: "Peace is not an empty word used to normalize crimes and oppression. Peace is the outcome of justice. Peace is not made by denying Palestine's right to exist and imposing an apartheid regime. Apartheid is what Netanyahu means by "peace for peace."
Israeli officials hope the two-day trip will produce a date for a signing ceremony in Washington, perhaps as early as September, between Netanyahu and Abu Dhabi's Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan.
Donald Trump's administration has tried to coax other Sunni Arab countries concerned about Iran to engage with Israel. The most powerful of those, Saudi Arabia, while opening its airspace to the El Al flight, has signalled it is not ready.
Hours before the plane landed three people were killed and several others were injured in two separate explosions in Abu Dhabi and UAE tourism hub Dubai, police and local media said.
The Abu Dhabi government media office said two people were killed in the blast in the capital, which the National daily reported had hit KFC and Hardee's restaurants.
In a second incident, one person was killed when a gas cylinder exploded in a Dubai restaurant, local media reported.
Like all El Al 737s, the aircraft was equipped with an anti-missile system, an Israeli spokesman said, and carried security agents of the U.S. Secret Service and the Shin Bet domestic security service to guard the delegations.
On board the packed airliner, passengers were welcomed in Arabic as well as English and Hebrew, a gesture marking the historic flight.
"Wishing us all salaam, peace and shalom, have a safe flight," the pilot, Captain Tal Becker, said on the intercom, in Arabic, English and Hebrew, using all three languages to also announce the flight number and destination.