A need not to take ‘far-reaching steps’

Politics have a special logic – or rather illogic.

Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, has decided not to sign an aviation agreement with Europe. The ceremony was scheduled for next week.

The reason behind the decision? – the short time before the general elections in Israel. The official statement says that the decision stems from the need to “not make far reaching steps in such a time”.

In July, Israel and the EU initially signed a comprehensive aviation agreement. The agreement was scheduled for ratification on December 20.

If and when signed, the agreement will allow all EU airlines to operate direct flights to Israel from anywhere in the EU, and Israeli carriers will be able to operate flights to airports throughout the EU.

The EU-Israel air transport market will be opened gradually, so that by the start of the summer season in 2017 the market would be fully open, with no restrictions on the number of weekly flights between Israel and the EU.

Based on the experience of similar agreements signed with other EU-neighbouring countries, the gradual opening of the market is expected to encourage a larger number of direct flights from Israel to destinations in Europe at lower prices, while also reducing flight prices to Israel for European travellers.

In parallel to gradually opening up the respective markets, the agreement also aims to integrate Israel into a wider Common Aviation Area with the EU.

Israel will implement regulatory requirements and standards equivalent to EU aviation rules in areas such as aviation safety, the environment, consumer protection – including passenger rights – air traffic management, economic regulation, competition issues and social aspects.

The prime minister’s decision is connected to the coming elections – but not for the stated reason. If you are not convinced, let me remind you – a day after the initial signing, the Israeli workers’ union declared a work dispute in three airlines, claiming that the signing breached promises made by the minister of transport.

So now, the prime minister simply needs the votes of the Israeli airlines’ employees and their families.

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