Why Palestinian Arabs Are Happy to Use Israel’s Ramon Airport and why the King of Jordan Is Furious

by Mudar Zahran

On the 23rd of August, the Israeli authorities allowed Palestinian Arab passengers to travel from the West Bank to Cyprus via Ramon International Airport which is near Eilat, in Israel. This is a pilot program to see if such a procedure could be expanded and sustained. For the Palestinian Arabs, it is also a drastic change from the regularly horrendous travel route over land to cross the border to Jordan and then on to Amman International Airport where the treatment of Palestinian Arab
passengers, in particular, is said to be very poor.

A look at Palestinian Arab social media proves beyond a doubt that the Palestinian Arabs are happy with the idea of traveling via Ramon Airport. It gives them unexpected freedom.

Jordan‘s King Abdullah is not happy at all with this. His state-controlled media began spitting bullets against the program even before the first flight took off.

Abdullah’s massive propaganda machine has been engaged in a full-blown Jihad against the idea of Palestinian Arabs travelling through an Israeli Airport to Europe rather than through a Jordanian airport.

The Jordanian media, which is tightly controlled by the king himself, began demonizing anyone who would travel through an Israeli airport, by calling them “traitors”.

The King’s regime even took the fight to social media. Fake accounts that are known to be affiliated with the Hashemite propaganda machine began attacking Palestinian Arabs calling them “traitors who have betrayed Jordan”. This intensified right after the maiden flight took off from Ramon Airport. The king’s so-called loyalists on social media escalated the verbal assault against the Palestinian Arab travelers and said the move was “particularly aimed at Jordan”.

Racist slurs against Palestinian Arabs are still being spread online by the said “loyalists” as these lines are being written, with a hashtag in Arabic that reads: “no to Palestinian normalization with Israel”.

Further, one of the king’s close confidants and de facto mouthpieces, Sameeh AlMaaitah, joined the fight. He told the Jordanian media, “The Palestinian Authority comes for our help during crises and they drop us in good times”.

Quickly, the Hashemite-controlled media jumped at his statement and began publicizing it while the Hashemite social media machine was using the comment to attack the Palestinian Arabs without sparing the majority of Jordanians who are mostly of Palestinian origins.

In short, Jordan’s King is furious with the fact that Palestinian Arabs may end up traveling through an Israeli airport to Europe and not through his Jordan’s airport in Amman. But why?

Jordan’s king doesn’t want this pilot program to succeed. The claims made by some journalists that Palestinian Arabs are not happy with traveling through Ramon Airport are lies.

Palestinian Arabs are totally happy with traveling through Ramon Airport. This enables them to avoid traveling through the Jordanian border checkpoint which is usually humiliating and costly. A quick look at the comments made by hundreds of Palestinian Arabs on Twitter, some of which were shared by the renowned Israeli writer and academic, Edy Cohen, speak of the abuse practiced by Jordan’s government against Palestinian Arab passengers. One tweet reads:
“You guys seem to have never traveled through Jordan. May God never make you witness how Jordanians treat us Palestinian Arabs at the bridge crossing, how they are racist towards us, they throw our luggage, they yell at elderly passengers, they take advantage of us and force us to stand in the sun for hours” .

Indeed, mosh tweets and Facebook posts by Palestinians from the West Bank seem to fully support the use of Ramon Airport. Many of the Palestinian Arab users have even described it as “a way to get back at Jordan’s government” with comments like “this should serve the Jordanians right”.

By traveling through Ramon Airport, Palestinian Arabs also save money because when they travel through Jordan they have to pay an entry fee to Jordan and then when they fly out from the Amman Airport they pay substantial taxes and fees
including a $60 travel fee per passenger.

Money is not their biggest problem. At Jordanian border checkpoints and airports, Palestinian Arabs are systematically humiliated and abused by the Jordanian customs officers. There are countless testimonies to this.

As for security measures, it’s no secret that Israeli security measures are way more humane and respectful of Palestinian Arabs than the ones imposed by the Hashemite regime in Jordan. This should not be a surprise to anyone because the Israeli’s intentions are to achieve security and prevent terrorist attacks while the Hashemite regime’s intentions are to break the will of Palestinians and scare them. This tactic has worked for the past seven decades and has enabled the Hashemites to control the Palestinian Arab majority in Jordan.

The case of Ramon Airport should serve as a reminder that the majority of Palestinian Arabs want dignity over identity and livelihoods over the so-called martyrdoms. Yes most of them may hate Israel, which is a very sad thing, but at the same time, they’re willing to live normally and enjoy life when they get the chance as long as there is the prospect of better days ahead.

Under the Palestinian Authority and King Abdullah, the Palestinian Arabs have no such prospect. The only ones benefiting are Abdullah and Abbas.

Therefore both the king of Jordan and Abbas have been desperate to keep the status quo at the expense of the Palestinian Arabs and the Israelis.

One key thing that must be put into perspective here is that Jordan has done very well under the complicated situation and will continue to oppose any improvement to the living conditions of the Palestinian Arabs or to the security and well-being of the people of Israel.

The use of Ramon Airport denies the King the ability to collect considerable sums from Palestinians passing through his airport.

For peace to happen, the sinister works of Abdullah and Abbas must end.

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