Jordan criticizes Israeli plan for Red Sea airport

Civil aviation chief Mohammad Quraan says edge of planned Israeli airport would be 200 meters away from King Hussein International Airport in Aqaba. Islamic Action Front: Airport challenges Jordanian sovereignty

Jordan criticized Wednesday an Israeli plan to build a new international airport on the Red Sea, very near an existing one in Jordan.


Civil aviation chief Mohammad Quraan said the edge of the planned Israeli airport -- if it were built -- would be 200 meters (about 220 yards) away from the Jordanian one on the Gulf of Aqaba, which would present a huge risk to air traffic safety.


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"We expressed our reservation on the site because of its proximity to our border and the King Hussein International Airport in Aqaba," he told The Associated Press.


He said the envisaged problems include communication interference, which could confuse incoming flights, and a constant violation of Jordanian airspace by aircraft bound to Israel's Eilat to the west.


"We voiced our concern in a recent meeting with the Israeli side," he said.


Haim Assaraf, Israel's deputy chief of mission at the embassy in Amman, confirmed that Israel plans to build the airport in Eilat, and said his government has "received the Jordanian concerns and took note of them."


"But I want to emphasize that the level of cooperation with Jordan is excellent in many different ways," he said, suggesting that the disagreement would have little effect on diplomatic relations established under a peace treaty in 1994.


In Israel, foreign ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said his government was "familiar with the issue and it is being dealt with through diplomatic channels." He declined to further discuss the subject because of diplomatic sensitivities.


Quraan warned that Jordan would take "any measure if the new Israeli airport issue is not resolved" amicably.


"If we are forced to resort to international justice, this will be our right as stated in the Chicago Convention to which both countries are signatories," he added.


At the moment, Israel has only a domestic hub in Eilat.


Following the peace treaty, Jordan and Israel tentatively agreed to expand Jordan's airport on the Red Sea to be used jointly for international flights. The idea was soon put on the back burner amid concerns that busy air traffic to the tourist attractions in Jordan and Israel would force lax ground and air security.


Meanwhile, the Islamic Action Front, Jordan's largest opposition group, criticized the planned Israeli airport as a "challenging to Jordanian sovereignty and undermining national security."


The Jordanian government "must take a firm stand in the face of the Israeli plan," added the front, the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood, which opposes peace with Israel and advocates its annihilation.



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פרסום ראשון: 10.09.13, 17:30
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