- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 18, 2002

A balance must be found between airline security and passenger convenience, Israel's transportation minister told a Washington audience yesterday.
"For a century, we have had to combat terrorism," said Ephraim Sneh. "We had to develop our own system to protect the passengers and crew [of airplanes]. I think we are in a position to give good advice."
Mr. Sneh, in a speech at the National Press Club, said Israelis are proud off their aviation security.
"Our most important achievement, in spite of current attempts at terrorism, is that Israelis are not afraid to fly," he said.
Mr. Sneh said security measures on airlines should not harm the passengers. A balance must be found, and in Israel, that comes from cutting-edge technology. Some of that technology was on display downtown at the "Secured Skies, International Conference and Exhibition on Aviation Security: Confronting international Terror."
Israel has become a valuable consultant to the United States on improving airline security, because Israel had to adopt measures that provide protection from suicide bombers. There was a closed-door meeting between Israeli officials and U.S. officials yesterday morning, Mr. Sneh said.
He said cargo is allowed on El Al Airlines airplanes but is X-rayed. "We do take care of cargo, because it can be a way of causing problems."
He said he believes profiling passengers is an essential way to provide efficient security. "Personally, I believe a more flexible system of profiling is needed," he said. "A more rigid system could cause problems. We should not be afraid of this word."
After the September 11 terrorist attacks, security in U.S. airports came under fire. Airports are now being scrutinized for holding up passengers trying to pass through security. The government is currently trying to figure out systems to curb the hassle, but legislation is still pending in Congress.
In Israel, digital cameras watch passengers going through the airport. Air marshals are stationed on every flight, and cockpit doors are reinforced.
Mr. Sneh said he opposes arming pilots. "On El Al airlines, pilots are not armed. Their mission is to drive, not shoot."
Meanwhile, the Federal Aviation Administration has ordered foreign airlines flying to the United States to reinforce their cockpit doors within two months and install stronger doors by April 9, 2003.
U.S. airlines already have reinforced doors and face the same April deadline for installing new doors, which are designed to prevent terrorists from entering the cockpit and taking over a plane, as was done with four airliners on September 11.
The FAA estimates that more than 1,900 planes owned by foreign carriers will have to install the new doors at a cost of $41 million to $80 million. More than 6,000 U.S. airplanes will also get the stronger doors.
This article is based in part on wire service reports.


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