Flight Cancellations Feared in Israel as Cuts Threaten Security Budget

Shortage of Israelis working abroad temporarily in security jobs could cause problem from as early as next week and run well into the summer

A check-in counter is closed in Ben Gurion airport during a nationwide strike in Tel Aviv, Israel, Sunday, Dec. 17, 2017. Israel's national trade union is holding a nationwide strike to protest generic drugmaker Teva's decision to lay off a quarter of its workforce. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
Ariel Schalit/AP

The dispute over Foreign Ministry budget cuts might end up disrupting the vacation plans of hundreds of thousands of Israelis starting next week and running into the summer.

The head of security operations for El Al Airlines, which handles ground security for all Israeli carriers, informed the airlines that starting next week they might have to cancel flights for lack of personnel to handle security at foreign airports. He warned that the problem could grow worse during the Passover holidays and the summer when air traffic peaks.

The shortage of Israelis working abroad temporarily in security jobs emerged over the last two weeks. The treasury and Histadrut labor federation agreed to terms two weeks ago for improving pay for the security personnel, who also handle security at Israeli embassies.

But shortly afterwards the Foreign Ministry, which is responsible for the hundreds of security personnel, said it couldnt cover the extra costs.

As it is, the surge in air travel to and from Israel has created a shortage of security personnel, which disrupted flights over Passover last year. About 80 people who have completed the security course cant take assignments for lack of a budget and 60 more graduates are about to join them, the head of El Als security said.