Swedish air space mafiaSwedish air space mafia

Sweden refuses entry to Peres’s plane

President’s office blames Stockholm, but Foreign Ministry points finger at private aviation company handling flight

Lazar Berman is The Times of Israel's diplomatic reporter

President Shimon Peres in Oslo, Norway, on May 12, 2014 (photo credit: Haim Tzach/GPO)
President Shimon Peres in Oslo, Norway, on May 12, 2014 (photo credit: Haim Tzach/GPO)

President Shimon Peres ran into trouble Sunday as his plane attempted to cross Swedish air space en route to Norway.

Swedish air authorities refused to let Peres’s plane proceed, forcing pilots into a holding pattern over the Baltic Sea until they were rerouted through Denmark’s airspace, Haaretz reported.

The rerouting caused Peres to arrive late to his official reception in Norway.

Peres’s office blamed the Swedes, while the Foreign Ministry pointed the finger at the President’s Office and Kishrey Teufa, the private company responsible for the president’s travel arrangement on the trip.

Kishrey Teufa filed the requests for permission for the plane to traverse the airspace of all the countries through which they were flying. Bulgaria was the first country to balk at the request, unwilling to approve one from a private company. Once Israel’s embassy in Bulgaria filed the request instead, Sofia approved it.

When the craft was flying across Polish airspace Sunday, the pilots contacted Swedish air control to request permission to enter. The Swedish authorities said they had no knowledge of the flight, and refused entry.

From the plane, Peres’s advisers tried to solve the problem through the Foreign Ministry and Isaac Bachman, Israel’s ambassador in Sweden, to no avail.

Eventually, the pilots gained approval to fly through Danish airspace.

The Foreign Ministry underlined that all official flights are meant to go through them. However, Peres’s office said that Sweden had given them approval, the Shin Bet verified that all permissions had been granted, but permission was later revoked for unknown reasons.

The 90-year-old Peres is the first Israeli head of state to visit the Norway on a state visit.

Norway’s King Harald V, who plays a ceremonial role and is not part of the government, welcomed Peres to the royal palace on Monday as police dispersed demonstrators outside.

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