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      Israel and Colombia Sign Open Skies Agreement

      New agreement between Israel and Colombia will allow airlines of both countries to offer direct flights between Bogota and Tel Aviv.
      By Elad Benari
      First Publish: 4/18/2011, 5:17 AM / Last Update: 4/18/2011, 5:12 AM

      Israel and Colombia signed a bilateral Open Skies agreement last week, according to a report on the Port2Port website.

      The agreement was signed between Avi Ben Hur, Deputy Director of International Relations in Israel’s National Civil Aviation Administration (NCAA) and Dr. Santiago Castro Gómez, Director General at UAEAC, Civil Aeronautics of Colombia.

      According to the report, the newly signed agreement will expand air traffic between Israel and Colombia, by allowing airlines of both countries to offer direct flights between Bogota and Tel Aviv and to code-share flight between Israel and Colombia.

      Israel and Colombia will benefit from the agreement since it will allow flexibility and easy transport of passengers between the two countries.

      Colombia has close diplomatic ties with both Israel and the United States. Israel is a prime exporter of weaponry to Columbia and the two countries cooperate in the fields of security and technology.

      Several weeks ago Colombia announced that it will not join the parade of Latin American nations that have recently recognized the Palestinian Authority as a sovereign country.

      Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos Calderon told the World Jewish Congress on that as a “matter of principle” his government would not recognize any unilateral declaration of statehood by the PA.

      Colombian Vice President Francisco Santos Calderon visited Israel in the summer of 2009, where he met with Minister of Foreign Affairs Avigdor Lieberman, President Shimon Peres, and other government officials.

      The governments of Israel and Colombia must ratify the Open Skies agreement before it goes into effect.

      Meanwhile, Port2Port also reported that the first three months of 2011 saw an impressive recovery of Israel’s Diamond Industry.

      The website cited a report released last week by Israel Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor’s Diamond Controller Shmuel Mordechai, who noted that “The first quarter of 2011, compared to 2010, indicates a large increase in exports of polished diamonds and rough diamonds and in imports of polished and rough diamonds to Israel.”

      Mordechai states in the report that net polished diamond exports in the three months stood at $2.1 billion US, which is up 45.7% from $1.4 billion US in the first quarter of 2010. Net rough diamond exports were valued at $1.2 billion US, up 39.6% from the first quarter of 2010.

      The United States accounted for 45% of total exports, said the report, with Hong Kong behind it at 26%, Switzerland at 9%, Belgium at 8%, China at 2% and the rest of the world at 10%.