September 25, 2018 / 3:46 PM / 2 months ago

German court says Kuwait Airways cannot be forced to carry Israeli passenger

BERLIN, Sept 25 (Reuters) - A German court ruled on Tuesday that Kuwait Airways could not be forced to carry an Israeli passenger who had bought a ticket from Germany to Thailand, upholding a lower court decision that had angered German officials and Jewish groups.

The higher court in Frankfurt said a Kuwaiti ban on Israeli citizens was “unacceptable and irrelevant” in Germany. But it was impossible in practice for the airline to carry the man, because Kuwaiti law would have prevented him from changing planes in Kuwait.

“As Israelis in practice are not allowed to enter the transit areas of Kuwait’s airport, the plaintiff cannot demand transportation by the Kuwaiti airline from Frankfurt to Bangkok with a stopover in Kuwait.”

The plaintiff in the case, an Israeli man who was denied boarding on a flight from Frankfurt to Bangkok via Kuwait, had argued that the lower court’s decision accepted a racist Kuwaiti law and allowed the airline to override German laws.

Anti-Semitism remains a sensitive issue in Germany, one of Israel’s closest allies, more than 70 years after the Nazi Holocaust, in which six million Jews were killed.

Kuwait Airways said it believed the lawsuit was a politically motivated campaign against it and that it had great respect for Germany’s laws.

“In both proceedings, the judges came to the same conclusion in their judgements, which were comprehensible to all sides, well balanced, well-founded and well-derived: Kuwait Airways acted in accordance with the laws of Germany and its home country,” it said in a statement.

The Lawfare Project, which had filed the appeal, said it was exploring its options for further legal action and called on politicians to intervene.

“Now that justice so far has proven unable to solve this matter, politics immediately need to take clear decisions and tell the Kuwaitis: carry everyone or no one,” Nathan Gelbart, The Lawfare Project’s German counsel, who represented the Israeli plaintiff, said in a statement.

Israeli officials did not immediately comment on the case. (Reporting by Maria Sheahan; Editing by Kirsten Donovan and Peter Graff)

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