Dispute Over Security Protocols May Halt Israel-Dubai Flights Next Week

Shin Bet stresses that the disagreements concern security alone, and are unrelated to diplomatic relations between Israel and the UAE

Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis
An Israeli man walks past Emirati staff upon arrival from Tel Aviv to the Dubai airport in the United Arab Emirates, in November 2020.
An Israeli man walks past Emirati staff upon arrival from Tel Aviv to the Dubai airport in the United Arab Emirates, in November 2020. Credit: KARIM SAHIB / AFP
Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis

Disputes between Dubai's security authorities and Israel's aviation security authorities may halt Israeli airlines' flights along the Dubai-Tel Aviv route. According to the Shin Bet, disagreements have surfaced between the parties in recent months “in a manner that does not allow Israeli aviation security to fulfil its responsibilities.”

The Shin Bet security service stressed that these conflicts, which were first reported by travel news site PassportNews, are unrelated to the diplomatic relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, and strictly concern security arrangements. The Shin Bet handles the security for Israel's airports.

The authorities in Dubai told foreign airlines that, starting on February 8, they will be making changes to the airport's security requirements. The Shin Bet finds these changes unacceptable. The Israeli agency had worked with security officials in Dubai after the two countries signed security agreements that require the Shin Bet to act on possible threats in Dubai.

A senior Israeli source told Haaretz that if the sides cannot solve the problem, Israeli airline flights to Dubai will end on Tuesday. He said that Israel made it clear to the UAE that if these Israeli carriers' operations come to a halt, then the country would likewise bar UAE airlines from landing in Israel.

The source added that this would prevent Israeli companies from facing financial losses, and would pressure authorities in Dubai to improve security arrangements at the airport.

At this stage, the Shin Bet said, “There are ongoing efforts to solve the disputes with authorities in Dubai, and reach an understanding that will allow the Israeli security establishment to do its duty to protect Israeli aviation.”

At the same time, Israeli sources told Haaretz that if the two sides do not reach an agreement by Saturday night, the Shin Bet will send a letter on Sunday morning to Israeli airlines, warning them of the impending grounding of these flights.

The Shin Bet added that should Israeli airlines be unable to fly this line, they will look into the possibility of rerouting the flights to Abu Dhabi.

However, an Israeli source criticized this plan, saying that the distance between Abu Dhabi and Dubai will burden Israeli tourists.

Yaniv Kubovich contributed to this report.

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