Israel has extended the deadline of the flying arrangement with the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which was due on Tuesday, for a month. This would temporarily prevent the halting of flights from Israel to the UAE, but the Israeli government has warned of a potential crisis with the Gulf state if the dispute over aviation security is not resolved within the extended time.
Direct El Al, Israir and Arkia connections from Tel Aviv to Dubai were part of the landmark deal signed in 2020 that established aviation ties between Israel and the UAE. Hundreds of thousands of Israelis have visited Dubai since then.
According to Reuters, Israel’s Shin Bet security service has raised concerns about some arrangements at Dubai International Airport and said that the three national airlines of Israel would stop flights if the issues go unresolved. Transport Minister Merav Michaeli has temporarily extended the deadline for a month in the notion that the negotiations could continue.
“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,” a Shin Bet statement carried by Israeli media said.
Parallel to the deadline extension, Israel has hiked the pressure on UAE to address its security concerns.
“If El Al can’t fly to the Emirates, then Emirati companies can’t land here,” global news agency Reuters quoted an unnamed senior Israeli official. Flydubai operates direct Dubai-Tel Aviv flights, and Dubai’s Emirates has been looking to launch flights to Israel. Etihad Airways and Wizz Air fly from Abu Dhabi to Tel Aviv.
Abu Dhabi Could be an Alternate Option
Israel’s aviation security measures are rarely made public. However, possible precautions include designating specific parts of airports, or even separate terminals, for their passengers, as well as parking their planes under Israeli security and having armed sky marshals on board.
According to Shin Bet, Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, could be a viable option. However, a senior Israeli official dismissed this, claiming that Abu Dhabi saw significantly less traffic.
Neither the aviation authorities from Dubai, nor the UAE Foreign Minister, has commented on the issue.