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

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By Reuters

BERLIN (Reuters) – A German court said on Tuesday that Kuwait’s boycott of Israel was “unacceptable and irrelevant in Germany” but that Kuwait Airways could not be forced to transport Israeli citizens to the Gulf state, backing a controversial lower-court decision.

A Frankfurt state court ruled in November that the airline had the right to refuse to carry an Israeli passenger due to his nationality, triggering sharp criticism from German officials and Jewish groups.

The court said at the time that the airline was merely respecting the laws of Kuwait, a country that does not recognise the state of Israel, and that it was not up to a German court to rule on Kuwaiti law.

The plaintiff in the case, an Israeli man who was denied boarding on a flight from Frankfurt to Bangkok via Kuwait, appealed the decision, arguing that the ruling accepted a racist Kuwaiti law and allowed the airline to override German laws.

The higher state court in Frankfurt dismissed the appeal, saying on Tuesday that while it did not agree with Kuwait’s law barring Israelis, it was in practice not possible for Kuwait Airways to fulfil its contract with the plaintiff.

“The OLG (court) sees Kuwait’s boycott law against Israel as unacceptable and irrelevant in Germany,” the court said in a statement.

“But 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,” it added.

Anti-Semitism remains a sensitive issue in Germany, one of Israel’s closest allies, more than 70 years after the end of the Nazi-era 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.

(Reporting by Maria Sheahan; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)