Times of Israel reports:
A group of Palestinians took off to Cyprus on Monday, for the first time using Ramon Airport outside the southern city of Eilat as part of a pilot program allowing the facility to be used by residents of the West Bank for certain flights, part of a series of gestures from Israel aimed at easing the lives of Palestinians.Until today, Palestinians wishing to fly abroad needed to travel to Jordan and board a flight from there, or secure a hard-to-come-by entry permit into Israel to fly from Ben Gurion Airport.Arkia Airlines is operating the inaugural service, which is flying 40 residents of Bethlehem and Hebron from Ramon Airport at 11:30 a.m. to Larnaca. A return flight is scheduled for Friday. The route will also serve Israelis, who will be seated alongside the Palestinian passengers.
So much for "apartheid."
Who are the Palestinians traveling to Cyprus?
According to Ultrapal, they are doctors and pharmacists who work for a Ramallah-based pharmaceutical company who is paying for the trip. Their families are coming as well.
The employees were given a choice of whether they prefer to fly out via Amman or Ramon Airport. About 40 are leaving through Israel.
I wish my employer would pay for a free vacation for my family!
I can't determine which company is behind this. The Palestinian pharmaceutical sector is pretty successful; the largest company Jerusalem Pharmaceuticals has manufacturing facilities in Jordan and Algeria as well. There are several other major pharmaceutical companies in Ramallah.
Israel Hayom reports that when this initiative was first announced, many Palestinians expressed interest in taking the hours-long trip to Eilat to fly from Ramon, because travel to and from Jordan has been a nightmare.The Palestinian Authority has been discouraging Palestinians from using Ramon Airport, because anything that makes Israel look like anything other than a monstrous regime is anathema to them, and they would prefer their own people suffer than to allow them to benefit from anything Israel does to make Palestinian lives easier.
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