Dept. of Transportation Blames Kuwait Airlines for Anti-Semitism

KUWAIT-AIRWAYSThe U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) ordered the Kuwait Airlines Company (KAC) to “cease and desist from refusing to transport Israeli citizens between the U.S. and any third country where they are allowed to disembark based on the laws of that country.”

On September 30, DOT sent KAC a warning letter following the latter’s refusal to sell Israeli Eldad Gatt a ticket for travel from John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) to London Heathrow Airport (LHR):

KAC has chosen to operate an air route between the U.S. and the United Kingdom. In so doing, the airline has availed itself of the facilities and benefits of the U.S. and must comply with its laws. One of those laws is 49 U.S.C. § 41310, which prohibits “unreasonable discrimination” in foreign air transportation. Our determination that KAC’ decision to refuse to sell Mr. Gatt a ticket on its flight from JFK to LHR is not rational or reasonable in light of the facts and circumstances is consistent with the letter and spirit of that provision.

The claims in KAC’s response letter, sent on October 13, were rejected by DOT:

We have reviewed KAC’s arguments challenging that decision and requesting reconsideration. Your October 13 letter adds no new information or arguments that persuade us to change our determination. Accordingly, we see no reason to reconsider this matter. Our September 30 letter to KAC concluding that the carrier unreasonably discriminated against Mr. Gatt under 49 U.S.C. § 41310 is a final agency decision.

US Initiatives Support Israel’s Economic Stability and Growth

As part of this week’s meetings of the U.S.-Israel Joint Economic Development Group (JEDG), U.S. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and Israeli Finance Ministry Director General Doron Cohen today marked the extension of the U.S.-Israel Loan Guarantee program in an event in the Diplomatic Room of the U.S. Department of the Treasury. The officials signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) establishing a new framework for administering the recently extended U.S.-Israel Loan Guarantee program, which is designed to help the Israeli government access financial resources from private capital markets at affordable rates, in order to promote the country’s economic growth and stability. Along with the Loan Guarantee Commitment Agreement administered through the U.S. Agency for International Development, the new framework affirms the United States’ confidence in Israel’s strong economic fundamentals and the Government of Israel’s solid track record of policy implementation.

“Israel is a vital partner and ally of the United States,” said Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner. “The continued availability of this loan guarantee will allow Israel to continue to enjoy access to capital markets at affordable rates in the years to come.”

On July 27, 2012, President Obama signed legislation extending the U.S. loan guarantee program for Israel to 2016. This will allow the U.S. to provide access to up to $3.8 billion in future loan guarantees as part of a $9 billion commitment made by the U.S. in 2003.  The loan guarantees, together with effective management by the Israeli government, have helped support Israel’s strong economic recovery.  

“Israel appreciates the longstanding extraordinary support of the United States for Israel and the relationship between two countries that have so much in common,” said Israeli Finance Ministry Director General Doron Cohen. “The JEDG and Loan Guarantees program have contributed to the security and stability of the Israeli economy, and the JEDG will continue to enhance the relationship between our countries.”

More after the jump.
The JEDG, which is being held in Washington on October 24-25, is the primary economic dialogue between the United States and Israel.

The Israeli economy grew by 4.6 percent in 2011, and the Bank of Israel projects the economy to grow by 3.3 percent in 2012, making Israel one of the region’s strongest economies.  The Bank of Israel has been successful in keeping inflation on target, maintaining an inflation rate of 2.1 percent in September. Israeli officials have also been successful in reducing the country’s debt in recent years.