Monday, August 29, 2022

Well, this was inevitable.

Palestinian and Hezbollah media are claiming that Israel's plan to allow Palestinians to use Ramon Airport in the Negev is really part of a sinister plot.

In an article that's been published in multiple news sites, Arab "experts" claim that Israel's allowing Palestinian from the West Bank to travel via Ramon Airport is only the first stage towards forcing Arab Israelis to use the same airport, to leave Ben Gurion airport for Jews only. 

Ameer Makhoul, an Arab Christian from Haifa who can use Ben Gurion anytime he wants, insists that Ramon Airport will become a nightmare crossing, adding hours to Palestinian travel times that Israeli checkpoints supposedly do. He compares Palestinians using Ramon Airport to South African apartheid. 

Arab Member of the Knesset Mazen Ghanem echoes this theory, saying, "It is clear that Israel, with political malice, is turning the airport into a place of suffering to deport Palestinians who wish to travel from the West Bank." He adds that the airport will be a place of "suffering that will be worse than what is happening to the Palestinians at the Erez checkpoint and the Rafah crossing, which are known for the endless journeys of Palestinians through them torment and tragedy."

This is all insane. If Ramon Airport becomes a terrible place to travel to, then the Palestinians can still travel through Jordan as they have been, right? No one is forcing them to use Ramon Airport - are they?

According to this Knesset member, the Palestinians will have no choice but to go through Ramon. He doesn't exactly describe how, but he emphasizes that for the Palestinians who do use Ramon, no one should blame them because they have no choice.

This is all a crazed fever dream.

But meanwhile, there is another benefit to Palestinians from even the possibility of Ramon Airport opening for them. 

While Jordan has been strenuously protesting the airport as an attack, because of the potential loss of revenue of captive Palestinian customers for their Amman airport, politicians and some media realize that the nightmare of travel though the Allenby Bridge and to the airport is the main reason Palestinians would choose Ramon to begin with.

Jordanian MP Khalil Attia publicly asked 20 questions to the Jordanian prime minister, asking why the Palestinian experience in traveling through Amman is so lengthy and expensive. Palestinians from Jerusalem without Jordanian citizenship need to purchase a temporary Jordanian passport every few years, at a cost of $300, for example; there are other fees at the Jordan River crossings. Palestinians have to go through a gauntlet of lines and checkpoints, even on the Jordanian side, in order to travel. Jordan's waiting areas for Palestinians don't even have air conditioning. Palestinians cannot have their bags checked normally; after security checks the luggage is piled into a room where people have to find their own luggage which can take hours. There is no mechanism for Palestinian complaints about the Jordanian procedures. 

Attia also listed no less than 15 different procedures with lines that Palestinians traveling to Amman's airport must go through. 

In order to remain competitive with Ramon, Jordan will need to improve their own policies regarding Palestinian travelers, whom they have up until now treated like cattle. 

It looks likely that even for Palestinians who refuse to use Ramon Airport, Jordan is being pressured to improve their travel experience.

Amazing what a little competition can do. 



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