WASHINGTON - US Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano has announced she will postpone her visit to Israel, which was slated for this week, due to public pressure on the government following the thwarted attempt to blow up an American airplane during Christmas and President Barack Obama's demand to hold an extensive investigation into aviation security measures and submit recommendations ahead of a White House hearing on the subject scheduled for Tuesday.
Napolitano's deputy, Jane Lute and Assistant Secretary for Policy David Heyman will arrive in her place.
The visit, slated for Wednesday, was planned as part of a round of meetings in several world capitals. The American delegation will leave to Europe on Monday and arrive in Israel Wednesday for coordination and educational meetings between professional echelons.
Recently, Republican sources have been pressuring Napolitano to resign her post, following her slip of the tongue during an interview, in which she said that authorities managed security measures well following the attempted attack on the US-bound plane.
A day after the interview, Napolitano retracted her statement and admitted that many breeches in the security establishment allowed for the Nigerian terrorist to board the flight.
The goal of the American delegation that was to be headed by Napolitano was to coordinate security measures of US-bound flights around the world.
Despite her absence from the upcoming meeting, Napolitano is slated to visit Israel in a few weeks to take part in a round of meetings between ministerial echelons.
In accordance with increased American aviation security measures, the US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) announced it began conducting Monday new passenger screening procedures for passengers flying to the US. The new procedures include physical searches of passengers and their baggage, metal detectors and x-raying luggage.
According to the TSA announcement, passengers holding Cuban passports as well as passports from 13 Arab countries including Lebanon, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Yemen and Saudi Arabia will be subject to physical searches.