Xinhua (Analysis)
November 29, 2011 - 1:00am

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman wants to establish clear guidelines to avert embarrassing incidents between foreign diplomats and airport security personnel, the Ma'ariv daily reported Monday.

The newspaper cited a letter Lieberman sent to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in which he warned "the humiliating treatment the guests received severely damages Israel's image in the world. All the efforts that are being invested in public diplomacy are going to waste."

The foreign minister is reportedly enraged by a string of complaints forwarded by high-ranking officials that their visit to Israel was marred by demeaning security checks.

The latest incident involved Alessandro Mussolino, an Italian politician who accompanied former Foreign Minister Franco Frattini on a visit to the country last week.

Security personnel at Ben-Gurion International Airport seized a bag containing the official's personal belongings for scrutiny before he boarded a flight to Rome. The politician, Lieberman noted in his letter, landed in his country without his wallet and the keys to his home and car.

"I was raised in a pro-Israeli family, which is why I feel (at home) when in Israel even though I'm not Jewish," Mussolino told Ma'ariv in a telephone interview.

He said security personnel escorted him to a small room at the airport, where he was instructed to strip down for a search.

Security measures at Ben-Gurion are among the most stringent in the world, and rely on sophisticated electronic surveillance alongside visual and verbal screening of passengers.

The last terror attack took place in May 1972, when three members of the Japanese Red Army arrived at the airport from Rome and opened fire on passengers in the baggage claim area, killing 26 people and injuring 71 others, in what became known as the Lod Airport Massacre.

In his letter, Lieberman cites other incidents that occurred over the past year, which involved a senior adviser to a former president of Moldova, a delegation of Spanish defense officials, and a delegation of German film producers.

Lieberman is proposing a designated "operations room" at Ben- Gurion that will bypass the traditional security screening via the direct processing of VIPs. Representatives of the foreign ministry, interior ministry and Shin Bet, the agency directly in charge of airport security, will staff the room and enable the smooth arrival and departure of diplomats and other VIPs, according to the report.


American Task Force on Palestine - 1634 Eye St. NW, Suite 725, Washington DC 20006 - Telephone: 202-262-0017