Israeli experts to review LAX airport security

Top airport security official to make periodic reviews of anti-terrorist measures; LA mayor concludes week-long Israel visit.

LA mayor 224.88 (photo credit: Yaakov Lappin)
LA mayor 224.88
(photo credit: Yaakov Lappin)
Israel's top airport security official will make periodic reviews of anti-terrorist measures at Los Angeles International Airport under an agreement signed last week during a visit here by LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. The pact, formalizing an arrangement begun nearly two years ago, will bring the Israeli official, Nahum Liss, and two colleagues to Los Angeles for regular inspections as $1,000-per-day consultants. The officials work for the authority that operates Ben-Gurion International Airport. Calling Ben-Gurion the world's safest airport, Villaraigosa said the agreement "is going to put us in a position to learn... to implement state-of-the-art technology and other measures to help us secure our airport." Starting in the fall, Liss and his team will visit LA about twice a year and provide additional consulting by e-mail, officials on both sides said. The team made a preliminary examination of the airport in October 2006. The deal is part of an effort by city officials to upgrade security at L.A. International, which is considered the state's No. 1 terrorist target and has been singled out by the al-Qaida network. LA City Councilman Jack Weiss, who arranged the Israelis' 2006 visit, said the agreement is believed to be the first ever reached between a US airport authority and a foreign government agency. During his visit last Sunday, Villaraigosa met with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in Jerusalem and handed him a jersey of LA Lakers basketball star Kobe Bryant. Villaraigosa, on a seven-day trip to the Israel, said he was a longtime friend of the prime minister, and the two discussed ways to promote peace in the region. He said his gift reflected that "there is no better ambassador for the city of Los Angeles than Kobe Bryant." Villaraigosa also met with a string of Israeli leaders, including President Shimon Peres and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni. He led a delegation of 40 people and will meet with terrorism experts, water conservation specialists and environmentalists during the visit. He also visited Sderot, calling it a moving experience. "In 15 years of public life, I've had a long relationship with Jewish leaders and the state of Israel," he said. "Meeting with the students and seeing the resilience and their attempts at normalcy while withstanding the barrage of rocket attacks - it was inspiring." He also travelled to LA's sister city, Tel Aviv, where he met with Mayor Ron Huldai and signed a memorandum of understanding to link restoration efforts of rivers in the two cities, as well as launch cooperation on researching environmental challenges they both face. Villaraigosa also visited the Bialik Rigosin School in Tel Aviv, known for its cultural and ethnic diversity. The school caters to a large number of foreign workers' children, speaking over 40 languages, and is supported by the LA Jewish Federation.