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Israeli bodyguards' guns go missing in airline baggage gaffe

Little was left to chance in yesterday's meetings between Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu and President Barack Obama.

Unfortunately, things got off to a bad start when American Airlines workers at New York's JFK airport managed to lose a suitcase belonging to the Israeli delegation while transferring their baggage onto the plane flying them south to Washington DC early yesterday morning.

Worse, this was not just about toiletries taking a wrong turn. The suitcase in question belonged to an agent of the Israeli security service, Shin Bet. American Airlines finally tracked it down, late in the evening, nearly 3,000 miles away at Los Angeles International Airport, where it transpired that some of its contents had gone missing – specifically, four Glock 9mm handguns of the kind government secret service agents often use to protect prime ministers and presidents.

It was not clear yesterday how many of the guns had vanished, though the Los Angeles Times suggested that three had been found safely. American Airlines preferred to say as little as possible about the lapse in its standards of baggage handling. "When you have a situation related to security, we allow the appropriate law enforcement agencies to handle the situation, and we refrain from commenting publicly, so that we don't hamper an investigation," the carrier said in a statement.

None of this seemed destined to alter the outcome of the leaders' meeting which was so artfully choreographed to convey rediscovered mutual respect (after some very testy months), and above all to save face on all sides, that that one Washington Post correspondent felt compelled to call it the Oil of Olay summit. Lest anyone became distracted by lost-luggage caper, four US senators arrived in Israel yesterday precisely to announce what everyone already knew: Obama and Netanyahu are excellent friends again.

The visit by senators Joe Lieberman, John McCain and Lindsay Graham, arriving from a shared trip to Afghanistan, was sober, particularly in reference to Iran and the nuclear stand-off. Mr Lieberman told his hosts that keeping Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon would remain paramount, and would be achieved "through diplomatic and economic sanctions if we possibly can, through military actions if we must".

Belfast Telegraph