Turkish Airplane Leased to Lebanese Company Landed in Israel

A  Boeing 737-800 aircraft had landed in Israel on Wednesday, August 31, 2016; and that simple act has led to controversy for Tailwind Airlines — which is a company based in Turkey that owns the airplane — because that airplane was leased to a private charter airline based in Beirut known as Wings of Lebanon through December of 2016.

The problem is that Israel and Lebanon have technically been in a formal state of war with each other since 1948 — the year Israel was formally established as an autonomous state — meaning that there was never any official peace between the two nations in 68 years.

Turkish Airplane Leased to Lebanese Company Landed in Israel

When passengers at Ben Gurion Airport — which serves the greater Tel Aviv metropolitan area — saw the aircraft, speculation started flying. For example, Nitzan Glusman posted on Twitter — roughly translated from Hebrew to English — “Surprise guest this morning at Ben Gurion Airport. Relax, it is not a delegation arriving from Beirut for peace talks, this is a Turkish company rented airplane.”

The reason the aircraft landed in Israel remained a mystery; but according to this article written by Donna Abu-Nasr for Bloomberg, “What happened was that Tailwind completed the maintenance in two days and used the plane for the remaining three days to take passengers from Turkey to Israel and Germany”.

The airplane departed from Israel that same day. The airplane was supposed to be sent to Turkey for maintenance work and then be returned to Lebanon five days later.

“The head of Beirut’s international airport, Fadi al-Hassan, said on Thursday that Turkey’s Tailwind was asked to remove the Lebanese company’s slogan from the Boeing 737-800 jet that it had leased until December”, according to this article from the Associated Press. “The plane was also banned from any future landing in Beirut.”

The aforementioned article at Bloomberg delved into slightly more detail: “Ghazi Zeaiter, Lebanon’s public works and transportation minister, said the incident was a ‘crime which we totally reject.’ He said Lebanon will carry out an investigation and the plane will never be allowed to fly back to Lebanon.”

Additionally, a request was submitted to Tailwind Airlines from Wings of Lebanon to remove its name from the airplane in question.

Peace is Possible — If Someone Would Just Listen

This particular situation reminded me of when I went to South Florida in October of 2007 to witness two FlyerTalk members — Dovster and BEYFlyer, who are respectively based in Israel and Lebanon — meet for the first time, which occurred in the United States because neither person can simply visit the other despite living approximately 50 miles from each other. A permanent barrier situated on the common border between Israel and Lebanon physically separates the two countries and is one of the impediments which prevents them from meeting in person in either country.

Photograph ©2006 by Brian Cohen.

Photograph ©2006 by Brian Cohen.

I have been to Beirut. I would have liked to have headed south to Israel on that same trip; but that would have been virtually impossible — so I headed back to Cyprus instead on my way to Italy.

During that October weekend in 2007, Dovster and BEYFlyer met on a makeshift stage in front of all of the attendees. “I want you to time us,” Dovster said to me, guaranteeing that he and BEYFlyer will sort out the differences between Israel and Lebanon in no more than 15 minutes.

They then sat in two white folding chairs on the makeshift stage and quietly talked in front of everyone who attended as they were finishing dinner.

In fewer than eight minutes — I could be mistaken; but my memory recalls seven minutes and 30 seconds — they shook hands and then explained to the attendees the specific points of the resolution to which they agreed.

“The key point was that Israel and Lebanon would both respect the international border,” said Dovster.

Other parts of the resolution which were agreed upon by both men included the following:

  • Lebanon would undertake to disarm Hezbollah and — if requested — Israel would assist it with either weapons or soldiers, whichever Lebanon felt it required.
  • Israel — if asked — would help rebuild areas of Southern Lebanon damaged in the war.
  • There would be full diplomatic relations. Citizens of each country could visit the other, with the understanding that security checks might be required.
  • Lebanon would not get involved in disputes between Israel and Palestine; and Israel would not get involved in how Lebanon treats Palestinians who live in that country.

Summary

If the residents of two countries — each one proud of the country in which he is based — can forge a civil and peaceful settlement in fewer than eight minutes, why can’t the leaders of those two countries do the same within 68 years?!?

The day where airplanes serving Israel would be permitted in Lebanon and airplanes serving Lebanon would be permitted in Israel without the blink of an eye or a cause for speculation would be a day celebrated in peace for which people of both countries long — but that day sadly does not appear to be in sight anytime soon in the foreseeable future…

Source: Nitzan Glusman.

3 thoughts on “Turkish Airplane Leased to Lebanese Company Landed in Israel”

  1. James says:

    Hey Brian, I think it’s a Lebanese plane leased to a Turkish airline.

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      That cannot be right, James, because then Wings of Lebanon would not ask for Tailwind Airlines to remove its logo from the airplane, which otherwise sports the official livery of Tailwind Airlines.

      Here is more information on the services which Tailwind Airlines offers — including charter services:

      http://www.tailwind.com.tr/our-services

      Plus, the airplane in question is no longer permitted to land in Beirut; and I do not believe that Lebanon would ban an airplane based in its own country.

      I do appreciate the correction though, James. Please keep them coming, as I have been wrong before more times than I care to remember…

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