memri
September 8, 2022 Special Dispatch No. 10195

Palestinian Writer Slams Jordan For Opposing Israeli Decision To Let Palestinians Fly Abroad From Israel's Ramon Airport, Not Just Through Amman: Jordan Used Us For Years, Now We Should 'Pay It Back'

September 8, 2022
Jordan, Palestinians | Special Dispatch No. 10195

Israel recently decided to allow residents of the Palestinian Authority  (PA) to fly abroad via Ramon Airport, near Eilat. This decision, apparently taken as a gesture of good will towards the Palestinians ahead of U.S. President Joe Biden's visit to Israel in July 2022,[1] could make it considerably easier for Palestinians to fly abroad, since until now they have been compelled to cross the border to Jordan through Allenby Bridge and fly from Amman. Flying through Ramon will spare them the time, money and trouble involved in crossing the border to Jordan – especially given that, according to reports, there has recently been unprecedented crowding and delays at the Allenby border crossing. Elements in the PA and in Jordan accused Israel of deliberately causing this in order to motivate the Palestinians to travel through Ramon Airport.[2]

The opening of the Ramon Airport to PA residents soon sparked fury in Jordan, due to the financial loss it is bound to cause, especially to Jordanian tourism companies and the Jordanian airline. The anger was directed not only at Israel but also at the PA, which was accused of cooperating with Israel in a measure that hurts Jordan's economy.[3]  The criticism was voiced by Jordanians on social media and by Jordanian officials. For example, former communication minister Samih Al-Ma'aita stated that the PA had coordinated with Israel on the issue of the Ramon Airport in order to gain economic benefits, for which it would pay with political concessions.  This PA conduct, he added, significantly harms Jordan's economic interests, and reflects ingratitude towards Jordan's King 'Abdullah II, who has always taken care to support the PA.[4] Muhamad Al-Momani, a former spokesman of the Jordanian government, urged the PA to join Jordan in opposing this Israeli measure and to keep its residents from using Ramon Airport, or any other Israeli airport, but rather to continue traveling through Jordan until a Palestinian state is established.[5]

In response to the criticism, PA officials hurried to renounce the plan and stressed that the PA had no intention of hurting Jordan's interests. In a joint press conference with his Jordanian counterpart Bisher Al-Khasawneh, PA Prime Minister Muhammad Shtayyeh stated that the Palestinians would not be party to any program aimed at sabotaging Palestinian-Jordanian relations, and that Ramon airport would not be a substitute for the Palestinians' relations with Jordan.[6] Nabil Abu Rudeina, the spokesman of PA President Mahmoud 'Abbas, said on the radio station of the Jordanian armed forces that the Palestinians would not take any decision on the issue of the Ramon Airport that would harm Jordan's interests.[7]

Against this backdrop, Palestinian writer Majdi 'Abd Al-Wahhab posted an article on the Al-Hiwar Al-Mutamadin website in which he harshly criticizes Jordan, stating that for years it has taken advantage of its position as the Palestinians' sole gate to the outer world. Jordan, he says, used this situation to generate profits and to control the Palestinians and their affairs, while subjecting the Palestinians to humiliation and difficulties at the border crossing. The Ramon program drives Jordan "mad with fury," he adds, because they are afraid to lose this source of revenue and their leverage over the Palestinians, and thus also their very raison d'etre as a state. He calls on the Palestinians to fly through Ramon, or through any other Israeli airport, in order to free themselves of Jordan's grip and "pay it back" for its conduct over the years.


Cartoon in Arab daily: Palestinians must choose between traveling through "Ramon Airport" and through "King Hussein Bridge" (the Allenby border crossing), where they must traverse an obstacle course of bureaucracy and fees (Al-Quds Al-Arabi, London, August 28, 2022)

The following are translated excerpts from his article:[8]

"We Palestinians were raised to accept the Jordanian humiliations at the border crossings, ever since Jordan withdrew beyond the river in 1967, leaving behind it a trail of failure and defeat: its own, its king's, its kingdom's and its regime's. Since then, Jordan and its leaders have become expert at offering various reliefs to the Palestinians and at pressing them to stubbornly cling to their soil and their homeland, whose loss is partly Jordan's fault.  These measures appear to be aimed at easing [the Palestinians' lives], but are [actually] meant to enslave them, control them and take over their affairs with the help of the officers and the flies at the bridges [i.e., the border crossings].[9] The Palestinians have had to become accustomed to this, since they have no other way to leave Israel and travel to the rest of the world, except through the Jordanian gate, which has become a means of providing livelihood [for Jordanians] at the [Palestinians'] expense. Jordan stabilized its regime, its politics and its economy at the expense of the [Palestinians] and their cause.

"Therefore, Jordan was founded and its regime stabilized itself, politically and economically, at the expense of the Palestinians and [their] cause. Not to say that [the mission of] Jordan, of its king and of its regime is to defend Israel and grant it services until this mission comes to an end, whether by dividing [Jordan] and dismantling it, or  by establishing a Palestinian state on its soil, which is adjacent to the Palestinian territories and to Al-Sham [i.e., Greater Syria]. After all, history does not recognize the [rule] of the horsemen who came [to Jordan] from Hijaz [i.e., the Hashemite dynasty].

"The Jordanians exploded with rage the minute they got the impression that their kingdom might evaporate and that [Jordan's status as] a gate [for the Palestinians] was about to collapse due to one small measure, [namely Israel's measure of opening] the Ramon airport [near Eilat] and allowing the Palestinians to leave their areas of residence [in the West Bank], where the Jordanians had trapped them, and travel abroad through this airport – and a privileged minority is even allowed to leave through [Israel's] Ben Gurion Airport. [The Jordanians are furious] because they fear losing their political influence over the Palestinians and the large profits that flow into the pockets of their tyrants, especially the palace and the king. The Ramon airport drives the Jordanians mad, because it forces them to look in the mirror and realize the fate they will encounter when they lose their political, intelligence and economic leverage over the Palestinians, and hence their raison d'etre as a state, a kingdom and a regime. Now they have woken up [and understood] that the conditions at the bridge [i.e., the Allenby border crossing] are horrible and must be improved so as to ease the Palestinians' passage. [Instead of doing so] they resorted to their usual despicable method, of threatening sanctions against whoever flies through Ramon airport.

"I think we [Palestinians] should pay them back by flying to freedom [only through Israel] and its airspace, until we are free from ]the Jordanians'] grip, since time is a wheel [i.e., fortunes change]."      

 

[1] Times of Israel (Israel), August 9, 22, 2022. During Biden's visit, Israel also announced it was prepared to take measures to increase efficiency and accessibility to the Allenby Bridge border crossing with Jordan by September 30, 2022 for the benefit of Palestinians (whitehouse.gov, July 14, 2022).

[2] Aa.com.tr, August 24, 2022.

[3] Jordanian commentator Bassam Al-Badarin assessed that the Jordanian government's ability to do anything about this issue is limited, since the U.S. supports the measure of opening the Ramon Airport to PA citizens. Alquds,co.uk, August 24, 2022.

[4] Facebook.com/RoyaNews, August 23, 2022.

[5] Aljazeera.net, August 24, 2022.

[6] Wafa.ps, royanews.tv, August 24, 2022.

[7] Hala.jo, August 25, 2022.

[8] Ehewar.org, August 27, 2022.

[9] This is a reference to the unpleasant conditions at the border crossing, where flies pester the people waiting to cross, conditions that attest to Jordan's negligence and disrespect for the Palestinians. 

Share this Report:

Help Fight Extremism - Support MEMRI

MEMRI is a 501(c)3 organization. All donations are tax-deductible and kept strictly confidential.