El-Al has notified the Department of Foreign Affairs that it will halt its route to South Africa by the end of January if its security staff is not provided with diplomatic passports by then. Israel provides its own security in all airports where it operates and in all circumstances has been granted such passports or come to other arrangements suitable to Israel.
South Africa has refused to reissue the diplomatic passports following a Carte Blanche story featuring a bellyaching former employee who accused El-Al security of racial profiling at OR Tambo international. Following the airing of the episode South Africa in November last year expelled an Israeli security officer.
Haaretz reports that Shimon Peres will be meeting with Jacob Zuma to try and resolve this issue. The pressure from the Palestinian and Muslim lobby groups must be overwhelming and I am certain that if South Africa and Israel come to an amicable agreement then some other concession will have to be made to these powerful pressure groups.
With El-Al operating in hostile atmospheres such as Turkey but unable to operate here you can only imagine the effect this move will have on an already downbeat local Jewish community that probably won't be able to withstand another massive wave of emigration.