Israel gives Free Air pass to EU pilots: Middle East developments

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In a sign of things to come, Israel -EU moved forward on an important trade item. Expand air travel between Israel and EU. It has been speculated for years now that Israel will be in a close deceptive relationship with the EU before EU acts as its protective agent during the last days. Israel needs to trust the mediator before it can allow them to act as their security alliance and partner in peace process. US was never trusted by the Palestinians and hence the Peace Process never really moved forward. This time though it is different with EU very trusted on the Palestinian and Middle east side while Israel economy continues to closely leverage itself with EU consumer, thus helping the Israel-EU relationship.

In stark reminder of the impending Israel-EU relationship headwinds, New York Times reports of Israel defense allowing EU pilots to have special clearance, a privilege not even US enjoys with Israel. US has responded by expressing its disappointment.

New York Times reports Nov 17,2010 report:

An Israeli security program that requires commercial pilots on airlines from some countries, including the United States, to transmit special identification clearance codes before entering Israel’s airspace will not be enforced on pilots with airlines based in the European Union, aviation officials say.

The exemption granted to European Union airlines by Israel’s civil aviation director, Giora Romm, comes as Israel is negotiating an air transport agreement with the European Union that could significantly expand air travel between Israel and Europe.

Israeli officials have not announced the exemption publicly and have offered no explanation for what critics say amounts to a double standard on security clearances for European Union airline pilots versus others.

“No other country has a similar requirement,” Giovanni Bisignani, the director general of the International Air Transport Association, an industry trade group, told reporters last week.

“The logistics are complex and difficult to keep secure,” he said in urging Israel to abolish the program.

None of the American carriers would comment publicly about the Israeli decision to exempt European airlines, out of concern that it would annoy the Israelis. But an executive of one of the affected airlines, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the issue’s delicacy, said, “It does appear we’re not being held to the standard of other carriers.”

The least to say for US is that Israel has once again publicly ridiculed the Obama led administration which has increasingly tilted to Iran, Pakistan, Indonesia (Read his presidency speech “…we want to make friends with Iran”). Unfortunately for him, instead of making friends, he has made enemies with the one country that has stood by it for over 50 years.

The question though to ask is what prompted the Israelis to act favorably to EU? It could potentially have been triggered by Obama request to halt all construction on the west bank. We covered that news here.


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