Palestinians will be permitted to fly to Turkey from an Israeli airport, the Israeli government decided in a move aimed at easing foreign travel for residents of the West Bank.
A Turkey-based airline will operate flights out of Ramon Airport near Eilat specifically for Palestinians.
Up until now, Palestinians living in the West Bank either had to travel by land to Amman, Jordan, and take a flight from there or apply for an entry permit from the Israeli government in order to fly from Ben-Gurion International Airport near Tel Aviv.
To reach Amman, currently, Palestinians must cross the Allenby Bridge in the Jordan Valley and then travel another 57 kilometers into Jordan to catch international flights.
While the move by the Israeli government to open the Ramon Airport to Palestinians will relieve pressure at the Allenby Bridge, it is unclear whether it will ease travel for Palestinians: The airport is a three-hour drive from the closest point in the West Bank.
This new policy comes amid heavy crowding at the Allenby Bridge crossing – the West Bank’s sole crossing point with Jordan.
Israel also plans to open the Allenby crossing 24 hours a day by the end of September, another move aimed at easing the present congestion.
The Office of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) said that Palestinians would be shuttled directly from the West Bank to the Ramon Airport but that security clearances would be needed.
According to reports, the Palestinian Authority prefers to see Israel renovate a former airport in Atarot, just outside of Jerusalem, which was closed in 2021 and is close to Ramallah, the de facto administrative capital of the PA.
When he visited Israel in July, U.S. President Joe Biden emphasized the need for improving travel for Palestinians.
Two Turkish companies – Pegasus Airlines and AtlasGlobal – plan to operate two weekly flights from Ramon Airport to two Turkish cities, Antalya and Istanbul, starting this month or in early September, according to a statement released by the Israel Airports Authority.
The announcement failed to specify how Palestinians would be able to reach the airport and whether or not travel permits would be required.
The airport will soon be offering flights to Europe as well, the IAA announced. However, it was not clear if Palestinians would be eligible for those other flights.
The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.