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The terrorist organization ISIS might introduce aircraft hijacking as part of its war against the West. Will this new situation provide Israel’s Transport Ministry some backing so that it may not shamefully bow to international demands – as it did four years ago?
I doubt that very much. Israel wants to be on good terms with everyone, so it does not insist on its own position.
The question is where do you draw the line, if you do at all, between security considerations and commercial and diplomatic concerns? This question was very acute four years ago, when the Ministry of Transport realized there was very strong objection to its demand to equip incoming non-Israeli passenger aircraft pilots with a system that would identify these pilots.
It was decided quite a few years ago to have pilots submit to this system, as one of the means to ensure that a pilot flying a plane bound for Israel is not a hijacker who took hold of the aircraft and intends to crash over Tel Aviv.
The developers of this classified system at Elbit call it “Code Positive”. It is capable, according to its developers and according to security officials at the Ministry of Transport, of verifying the pilot’s identity.
The system has been tested by several airlines, but when the scheduled date of full application came, it turned out the pilots do not want it. First, IATA (International Air Transport Association) voiced its stern opposition. Then came strong objection from IFALPA (International Federation of Airline Pilots’ Associations).
Nevertheless, the Ministry of Transport announced the program will continue to be implemented. Yet, after a harsh letter from the European Union’s transport committee, Israel’s Transport Ministry pulled back in fear. The letter claimed that compelling European airline pilots to use the system constitutes a problem as it would distract them during the most critical stages of the flight. The author of the letter listed additional objections. It is clear that the Europeans view the system as unnecessary and even counter-productive in terms of improved security. However polite, the letter expressed a clear, uncompromising position.
And Israel’s Transport Ministry gave in, big time. The entire project was put on hold.
Now that the age-old threat of aircraft hijacking is taking on a new urgency, it is worth noting whether anyone in Israel would realize such capitulation is inconsistent with Israel’s security interests.