Industrial action follows Israel's move to open skies

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Israeli airlines are on strike after the nation's cabinet approved a controversial open-skies deal with the EU.

Histadrut - a union representing staff at El Al, Israir and Arkia - called an indefinite general strike in response to the government's decision, taken on 21 April.

Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu says the goals of the European-Mediterranean Sea aviation agreement, which has been under discussion for four years, are "to lower the prices of flights to and from Israel and to increase incoming tourism".

However, the union is aggrieved by lack of consultation with the airlines, and argues that the deal presents a threat that Israel's airlines will collapse at the cost of "tens of thousands" of jobs.

Under the agreement's terms, European carriers will be able to operate flights to Israel from anywhere within the EU, while Israeli operators will be able to serve all EU airports.

After a gradual lifting of restrictions, the EU-Israeli air transport market is to be fully open by the beginning of the 2017 summer season.

Israel will be integrated into a broader common aviation area, through which it will implement European-equivalent safety, economic, and regulatory standards.