Israel announced that all direct flights to Copenhagen may be cancelled indefinitely because Denmark refuses to allow the carrier’s security personnel to conduct security checks at the country’s Kastrup airport.
The dispute comes in the wake of Israeli carrier Arkia’s final preparations prior to opening a new direct route between Copenhagen and Tel Aviv. The dispute has apparently reached a boiling point, with Danish carrier Cimber-Sterling also facing mass flight cancellations.
Israel national security policy maintains that all Israeli carriers be allowed to conduct separate security checks and also be allowed to carry arms at any airport they use. Over the weekend, Danish officials objected saying that such actions would violate “laws of occupation and human dignity.”
This is not the first time that El Al and other Israeli carriers’ security policies have caused controversy. Last year, a retired Israeli security officer told a local TV station that the Israel practices racial profiling. A row was caused as a result, with an El Al officer with a diplomatic passport being expelled from the country. The intervention of high-ranking diplomats rectified the incident several months later.
The usage of ethnic screening, in which Arabs or Muslims are subjected to more intense screening than other passengers, is regarded in the US and Europe as controversial and many governments view the practice as illegal. The Danish government views such actions as a violation of civil rights as well as Danish law. However, Israel views it as vital for its security, especially considering the constant use of violence against its citizens. In addition, supporters say that such a practice allows most passengers to pass security screenings quickly.
Israel reportedly has the top security in the world. However, US reports state otherwise, but this is mainly because of the country’s small size, low number of airports and the fact that the country is constantly on guard for terrorist activities, including plane hijakcings.
According to experts, the row is the result of the fact that most countries do not request permission to carry arms in an international airport and almost none of them are as heavily armed as the Israelis are. However, the Israelis requests are usually met and addressed in some manner. They also attribute the Danes refusal to grant the request to the mass rioting that occurred in Denmark following the publication of the infamous Muhammad cartoon.