PA urges Palestinians to refrain from using Israel's Ramon airport amid Jordanian anger

PA urges Palestinians to refrain from using Israel's Ramon airport amid Jordanian anger
The Palestinian Authority criticised Israel's move to open Ramon Airport for travel by Palestinians, after Jordan expressed anger over the move.
3 min read
24 August, 2022
Israel has launched a scheme to allow Palestinians to use Ramon airport in the southern Naqab desert [Getty]

An official from the Palestinian Authority (PA) has urged Palestinians to refrain from using the Ramon airport in the Naqab (Negev) desert in Israel.

The PA "rejects the idea of using Ramon Airport, and our message is clear to Palestinian citizens not to use it," Palestinian Transport Ministry Spokesman Musa Rahhal told the Arabic news website Arabi21

"There are stipulations under international agreements, including the handover of Jerusalem International Airport (Qalandiya), the reconstruction of Gaza International Airport – which was destroyed by the occupation in the Al-Aqsa (Second) Intifada in 2000, "he said.

Rahhal added that the Palestinians also had the right to construct and manage an airport in the West Bank.

Earlier this week, Israel began allowing Palestinians to fly abroad from the Ramon airport in southern Israel, and the first flight carrying Palestinians took off on Monday. 

The PA says Israel’s move infringes on Palestinian sovereignty. The Palestinian leadership wants the Israeli government to instead hand over Qalandiya airport in Jerusalem, which was seized by Israel along with the rest of East Jerusalem and the West Bank in 1967,

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The Palestinian Authority has so far not implemented any measures to taken to stop Palestinians from flying out of Ramon Airport.

"So far there are no measures taken, our message to the citizen is only to adhere to  advice and the official Palestinian position," said Rahhal.

"The use of Ramon Airport is against the Palestinian and Jordanian interest because it harms the Palestinian and Jordanian economy, and also promotes the policy of apartheid," he added.

Palestinians wanting to travel abroad normally need to use the King Hussein (Allenby) crossing into Jordan and use Jordanian airports. In some cases they can travel through Tel Aviv's Ben-Gurion Airport but their applications are usually denied or delayed. 

Jordanian anger

The Israeli move has also sparked Jordanian anger. Jordan who criticised the Palestinian Authority’s silence on the issue before Rahhal's statements.

"This is an Israeli measure that serves Israeli interests carried out in coordination with the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah, which offered free services to Israel at the expense of Jordan," said former Jordanian cabinet minister Samih Maayteh.

The Jordan Society of Tourism and Travel Agents (JSTA) fears the Israeli move would severely harm their business, leading to a drop in the number of Palestinian transiting through Jordan by 55 to 65 percent.

It urged the Jordanian government to simplify the process for Palestinians to travel through the country, the Jordan Times reported. 

“Palestinian travel through Ramon instead of Jordan will affect Jordanian tourism directly and the economic sector in general. Opening Ramon airport for Palestinians will cause the loss of a high percentage of Palestinian travellers to Jordan,” JTSA board member Mahmoud Al Khasawneh told the outlet.