The Israel Security Agency, better known by the acronym Shabak or the Shin Bet, has expressed serious concerns – that were not made public – regarding security arrangements at Dubai International Airport in United Arab Emirates (UAE).
“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 said.
For the time being, Israel has extended a security arrangement with Dubai, keeping Israeli carriers flying to the UAE, while the aviation security problems are being worked out.
The current arrangements were due to expire yesterday but a senior Israeli official said Transport Minister Merav Michaeli extended the deadline “by about a month” so the negotiations could continue.
Shin Bet has warned though, that Israeli carriers, such as El Al, Arkia and Israir would stop flying into Dubai International Airport if those security concerns are not resolved, leading to a potential crisis with the Gulf state.
“If El Al can’t fly to the Emirates, then Emirati companies can’t land here,” said the Israeli official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
“The crisis could be regional, not just bilateral,” the Israeli official added.
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.
Direct Tel Aviv-Dubai flights by El Al, Arkia and Israir airlines were launched after a 2020 agreement normalized ties between two states, allowing hundreds of thousands of Israelis to visit Dubai since.
Israel’s El Al airline operated the first Israeli flight to cross Saudi Arabia air space, landing in the UAE in August 2020.
The Shin Bet has suggested that UAE capital Abu Dhabi could serve as an alternative for the Israeli carriers, should they no longer be able to fly to Dubai. But the senior Israeli official ruled this out, saying Abu Dhabi attracted far less traffic.
“Abu Dhabi may be an option security-wise, but it is not an economic option,” Israeli official said.
Dubai authorities have so far not commented on the issue.