West Bank, MINA – Palestinians from the Israeli-occupied West Bank will be offered special flights from Ramon Airport, near the Red Sea resort city of Eilat, to destinations in Turkey, Israel’s Airports Authority said on Tuesday.
As quoted from The New Arab on Thursday, the move by Israel follows pressure from the United States to ease travel for Palestinians as prospects for establishing an independent Palestinian state and reviving long-stalled negotiations on ending Israeli-Palestinian conflict appear dim.
“We welcome efforts to facilitate travel for the Palestinian people,” a US Embassy spokesperson told Reuters.
But representatives of the Palestinians, who routinely have their movements restricted by Israel, said they were not a party to the decision.
“Nobody consulted with us on this matter,” said Wasel Abu Yousef, a senior member of the Palestine Liberation Organization.
“What we seek is the return of Al-Quds International Airport to operate as the State of Palestine’s airport.”
Palestinians from areas Israel occupied in a 1967 war cannot fly from Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport without special permission.
They typically travel to Jordan to catch international flights, a trip that entails crossing through checkpoints and which can take hours.
Under the pilot programme, the flights will run twice a week starting at the end of August to Istanbul and Antalya on Turkish carriers Atlas and Pegasus and use Airbus A321 aircraft, the Israeli airports authority said.
These flights will not be offered to Palestinians from Gaza, which has been under Israeli siege for 15 years.
Ramon Airport, which opened in 2019, is about 185 miles (300 kilometres) from Jerusalem and designed to take any planes re-routed from Ben Gurion Airport, near Tel Aviv. (T/RE1)
Mi’raj News Agency (MINA)