It was reported this morning by the Associated Press that Israel has lifted the ban on Apple’s iPad, which ends the restrictions on importing the tablet computer to the Jewish State. The concern was that the iPad didn’t comply with the European wireless standards that Israel follows and could disrupt other wireless devices.
AP writer Grant Slater reports that the Israel "Communications Ministry officials conducted ‘intensive technical scrutiny in a controlled laboratory’ before deciding to allow the iPad into the country, said Yechiel Shabi, a ministry spokesman. Israel announced the ban shortly after the iPad’s April 3 launch in the U.S. Officials said at least 10 of the flat, touchscreen computers were seized at the country’s international airport. Shabi said owners of the confiscated iPads would be permitted to retrieve them."
While Israel follows the wireless communications standards of many European nations, Israel has been the only country to ban iPad imports ahead of the product’s international release. Apple has delayed the launch until late May 2010 due to heavy sales in the United States.
Shabi was also quoted in the AP article saying that "the Communications Ministry quickly reached out to Apple to seek more information about the machine’s wireless signals. ‘Of course, in the mainstream media, it was bad PR and we didn’t like this,’ Shabi said. ‘But we said we would test it and it took us a week. I think that is very fast.’ The ministry has denied the ban had anything to do with concern that the signal could cause interference to signals of military equipment, as one lawmaker, Robert Ilatov, told the Haaretz newspaper last week."
UPDATE: Fortune Magazine has reported that the reason for the initial ban on iPads brought into Israel might not have been due to concern that the American Wi-Fi power standards — rather than the European ones Israel has adopted — could harm the country’s wireless networks. Rather, as Philip Elmer-DeWitt reports, "Time magazine on Tuesday picked up a line of reasoning floated five days earlier in TG Daily by Aharon Etengoff, an Israeli-born journalist who spent a year doing public relations for the Israeli Defense Force: ‘It is worth noting,’ Etengoff wrote, ‘that Apple’s Israeli distributor, iDigital, is run by Chemi Peres, the hyper-entrepreneurial son of Israeli President Shimon Peres. ‘Clearly, iDigital wants its lucrative cut of every iPad brought into the country — which it will undoubtedly receive when a modified European version of the iPad is approved for import over the next two or three months. ‘But in the meantime, iDigital can’t make money off the slow trickle of iPads entering the country via private citizens, tourists and international businessmen."