By Nidal al-Mughrabi
The Palestinian Authority urged Palestinians not to take advantage of concessions promised by Israel that would allow them to travel through Ramon airport in southern Israel, saying they should have their own airport.
Asked about a charter flight carrying Palestinian passengers to Cyprus through Ramon this week, Moussa Rahal, a spokesman for the Palestinian ministry of transport said: “National duty compels us not to travel through Ramon airport, and we advise them not to go there.”
Israel’s Airports Authority this month said Palestinians from the occupied West Bank would be offered special flights from Ramon, near the Red Sea resort city of Eilat, to destinations in Turkey.
The move followed pressure from the United States to ease some of the strict travel restrictions which prevent Palestinians from using Israeli airports – including Ben Gurion, Israel’s main international hub – without special permission.
Palestinians travelling abroad frequently do so through neighbouring Jordan but there are often long delays at the border crossing.
“Should the occupation want to ease up for the Palestinians, let them open Jerusalem Airport,” Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh said, referring to the now-disused Qalandia airport in the northern part of the occupied West Bank.
The airport, seized by Israel after the 1967 war which brought the West Bank area under its control, closed in 2000.
Israel’s offer to allow Palestinians to use Ramon for some flights has been heavily criticised by many Palestinian activists who say it does nothing to ease the severe travel restrictions.