Jerusalem24 – Preparations allowing for the first flight of Palestinians to depart from Ramon Airport in Eilat in southern Israel are reportedly underway.
According to Israel Hayom, flights will be available to Istanbul, Turkey, from the beginning of August.
Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza are barred from departing from Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv, having instead to travel either to Jordan or Egypt if they wish to fly.
The Israel Airports Authority is now reportedly preparing to launch the first international flights for Palestinians from within Israel and security officials are looking into the potential development – though it is still in its pilot stage, subject to the approval of Israel’s Defense Minister Benny Gantz.
The process is likely to be complex, in which passengers will have to go through various checkpoints and predetermined security measures both upon exit and entry to Israel – even before boarding the plane in the country of departure.
Several logistical matters remain to be settled before the process can be finalized, including who will be responsible for the entry of Palestinians into Israel, whether they will be allowed to arrive by car or bus, and which Palestinians will be allowed to fly in the first place. There is also the question of who will provide security services for flights, and who will provide pre-flight services to Palestinian travelers into Israel.
The nature of these issues raises serious doubts as to whether they can be settled before the first flight which is touted as taking place two weeks from now.
The initiative was promoted as part of a number of “goodwill gestures” by Israel towards Palestinians, which were reportedly secured as part of US President Biden’s visit – although Head of the US Office of Palestinian Affairs Unit George Noll has denied US involvement.
Palestinians themselves have so far expressed little enthusiasm at the idea.
“I will not support the Israeli economy […] I will bear the hardship of the bridges, support the Arab Jordanian economy, use Queen Alia Airport and pay more costs.”
بعد الطرح الاسرائيلي لفتح مطار رامون للفلسطينين بالضفة انا لن ادعم اقتصاد الاحتلال
نعم ساتحمل مشقة الجسور وادعم الاقتصاد العربي الاردني واستخدم مطار الملكة علياء وادفع تكاليف اكثر لكن فلوسي بتروح لاردني شقيق مش لاسرائيلي محتل
— Mousa Naser (@mousajamal_96) July 18, 2022
The Eilat Ramon airport opened in January 2019 at a cost of NIS 1.8 billion. It is the second largest in Israel, behind Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport, but has so far failed to bring in the expected level of traffic.
The airport has been called a “failure” by a number of airline operatives.