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Wednesday, March 3, 2010    

Napolitano and Israeli transportation minister sign civil aviation security pact

WASHINGTON — Israel and the United States have signed an agreement to bolster cooperation in civil aviation security.   

Officials the memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the U.S. Homeland Security Department and Israel's Transportation Ministry would establish communication protocols to relay threats to civil aviation.

[In 2005, U.S. airline industry officials determined that equipping missile warning and protection systems on U.S. airliners was not economically feasible. [Rand: U.S. airlines can't afford anti-missile systems] Israel, at that time, planned to equip some El Al planes with missile warning and protection systems.]

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"The real-time exchange of information with our international partners is critical to our efforts to enhance overall global aviation security," Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said. "This agreement will allow the United States and Israel to better coordinate on and respond to potential aviation security incidents to strengthen our mutual safety."

The MoU also stipulates measures for cooperation in aviation safety, Middle East Newsline reported. Officials said the the Homeland Security Department has already deployed personnel in Israel.

"MoU implementation will further improve the effectiveness of the cooperation between the respective civil aviation security authorities," Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz said. "Such International collaboration is of particular importance to ensure effective response to the evolving threat to international aviation."

[Such cooperation has paid off in the past, including in 2009 when Hamas acquired smuggled U.S. Stinger air defense systems. [Hamas couldn't fire smuggled Stingers against Israelis due to embedded ID system] Hamas was unable to use them due to installed friend/foe identification capabilities.]

Officials said the MoU would pave the way for cooperation between the U.S. Transportation Security Administration and the Transportation Ministry's Security Department. They said the two bodies would establish contact, set protocol and conduct periodic exercises.

This marked the second MoU by the Homeland Security Department and an Israeli ministry. In 2007, the department signed an agreement with the Israeli Public Security Ministry to share information on a range of domestic security concerns, including aviation security, emergency planning and response, homeland security-related research and protocols.

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