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Airline passengers going abroad whose flights are delayed by at least two hours will be entitled to food and drink, two telephone calls, and either a fax message or an e-mail, if a bill approved by the Knesset Economic Affairs Committee yesterday becomes law. The bill, introduced by MK Ahmed Tibi (United Arab List-Ta'al ), will be presented to the full Knesset for a vote on first reading.

The bill includes compensation for passengers whose flights have been delayed or canceled and for passengers who have been denied boarding despite having a reserved seat. Under various circumstances, the proposed law would provide practical assistance, expense reimbursement, another airline ticket or financial compensation. The law would require the operator of the flight to clearly and prominently advise passengers of their rights and would have violations of the law handled by the Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry.

The Histadrut labor federation had asked that compensation not be paid in the event of strikes so the workers' right to strike is not impaired, but the committee rejected the request.

Yesterday's Knesset committee session dealt with provisions regarding delayed flights, after it was decided at a prior hearing that any flight delayed by more than eight hours would be deemed canceled.

The committee also decided that passengers delayed between five and eight hours would be entitled to practical assistance, including hotel accommodations at night and transportation to and from the hotel in addition to reimbursement of expenses. Passengers would also have the option to cancel their ticket rather than wait for the flight.