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German high court upholds ruling allowing Kuwait Airways to ban Israeli passengers

NEW YORK CITY (JTA) — A high court in Germany has upheld a lower court’s ruling allowing Kuwait Airways to bar Israeli citizens from boarding its planes in Germany.

The High Court of Hesse, a German federal state, issued the ruling on Tuesday, Sept. 25, upholding a November 2017 ruling by a district court in Frankfurt. The Frankfurt court said it was unreasonable to expect an airline to “fulfill a contract if it means going against the laws of its state” and having to face legal consequences at home.

The court added that it was not within its jurisdiction to decide whether Kuwaiti law was reasonable.

The High Court of Hesse noted that it could not force the ban to be ended because it only has jurisdiction over the leg of the flight in Germany. It said that it was dismissing the claim because the execution of the contract was impossible due to Kuwaiti law.

An Israeli student living in Frankfurt sued the airline over its cancellation of his flight to Bangkok in the summer of 2016. The flight was to originate in Frankfurt with a stopover in Kuwait. When the state-owned airline found out the student’s nationality, it canceled his ticket, referring to a 1964 law that bars any agreements with Israeli citizens.

The student was represented through the appeal process by the U.S.-based Lawfare Project.

In January 2016, Kuwait Airways dropped its 35-year-old route between New York City and London after the U.S. Department of Transportation found the airline was breaking American law by barring passengers based on nationality. The decision followed an appeal by an Israeli citizen against a negative ruling by the department.

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