Israel May Suspend Flights to Dubai Because of Security Procedures
Experts expect a quick resolution to technical issue, travel to Abu Dhabi not affected
Israeli airlines may cease flying to Dubai starting on Tuesday unless a disagreement over security procedures is resolved.
The Shin Bet, underlining that the issue concerned the operational standards at the Dubai airport and not the political relationship with the United Arab Emirates, said, “Over the past few months, security disputes have emerged between the competent bodies in Dubai and the Israeli aviation security system, in a way that does not allow for the responsible enactment of security for Israeli aviation.”
Flights to Abu Dhabi, the UAE capital but a less popular destination for Israeli visitors, will not be affected by the issue.
Stanley Morais, acting director of international affairs for El Al Israel Airlines, told The Media Line that if flights are interrupted, it would mean a huge loss for the Israeli carriers, all three of which serve the route. The Emirati companies would have the market to themselves.
“There’s nothing we can do, it is beyond our control, we are just innocent victims of the situation,” he added.
Morais explained that Israeli airlines can only fly to destinations approved by the security apparatus.
However, there have been reports that in case of suspension, Flydubai and Emirates would also be barred from the route.
Closure of the route would also hurt Israeli travel agencies.
Abed Titi, a travel agent in Tira, northeast of Tel Aviv, told The Media Line it would represent a huge loss for his business, especially coming on top of the damage caused by the pandemic. “A lot of my customers, Arabs and Jews, travel regularly to Dubai,” he added.
Prof. Uzi Rabi, the director of the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies at Tel Aviv University, told The Media Line that because Israel and Israelis are always a potential target for terrorists, security procedures concerning aviation are strict.
Additionally, he said, the threat from Iran and its proxies makes security procedures even more complicated in the UAE.
However, Rabi suggested that the current issue may not be that big of a deal. “I think that what we do see here is a very specific disagreement,” he said, adding, “In my opinion, this disagreement is going to be dealt with, and we will soon hear that an understanding has been reached between the two security apparatuses.”
This kind of disagreement is ordinary when building a new relationship, he said. “It is all part of the process of normalization.
“I don’t think that there is a possibility that this issue will harm the relations between the two countries,” Rabi said.
Morais agrees and says this probably has nothing to do with the diplomatic ties between the countries. “It’s a matter of “professionals requiring procedures,” he said.
Lior Haiat, the spokesperson of the Israeli Foreign Ministry, declined to address the issue in response to an inquiry from The Media Line, saying it is strictly one of security and the ministry is not involved.