US pressure? In major policy shift, Palestinians to fly out of Israeli airport

Details about background checks and security screenings for Palestinian passengers remain unresolved.

By World Israel News Staff

Palestinians from PA-controlled cities in Judea and Samaria may be permitted to fly out of an airport in Israeli territory, in a major departure from decades of previous policy.

Up until now, Arabs who hold Israeli nationality are allowed to use Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport, which is near Tel Aviv, but Palestinians with PA-issued ID cards must cross the Allenby Bridge and fly out of Jordan’s Queen Aliyah airport in order to travel abroad.

But a new report from Israel Hayom indicates that Israel is rethinking that policy and taking steps that would permit Palestinians to use the Ramon Airport in the southern Negev desert.

According to the report, a pilot program that would see low-cost carrier Pegasus operate flights to and from Istanbul is already in the works. The Turkish airline already operates dozens of daily flights to and from Ben Gurion Airport.

Notably, the opening of Ramon Airport would come as a compromise after the Biden administration heavily pressured Israel to allow Palestinians to use Ben Gurion Airport, according to the Israel Hayom report.

Details about background checks and security screenings for Palestinian passengers, transporting them to the remote desert airport and other logistical issues, remain unresolved.

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The report comes on the heels of complaints about severe delays at the Allenby Bridge crossing, as thousands of travelers wait for hours to use the crossing each day.

Due to limited operational hours and restrictions on how many people can use the crossing on a daily basis, scores of Palestinian travelers who were returning from the Islamic Hajj pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia ended up stranded at the crossing.

A number of Palestinian and Jordanian officials slammed Israel for the delays, calling it a humanitarian issue and pleading with the Israeli government to relieve the overcrowding.

Transportation Minister Merav Michaeli recently announced that effective immediately, the crossing would be open 24 hours a day – but it’s unclear if that level of operation is sustainable in the long-term.

An estimated timeframe in which Ramon Airport would become accessible to Palestinians has not been made public.