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US pressures Israel to ease travel of Palestinians via Jordan

August 30, 2022 at 10:38 am

U.S. President Joe Biden speaks at a rally with Maryland Democrats at Richard Montgomery High School in Rockville, Maryland on August 25, 2022. [ Bryan Dozier – Anadolu Agency ]

The United States has been putting pressure on Israel to fulfil the promise made to President Joe Biden to ease the travel of Palestinians through border crossing with Jordan.

The King Hussein Crossing, also known as Allenby Bridge, is used by Palestinians from the occupied West Bank to visit relatives in Jordan and access international flights via Amman. It is currently open only from 8am to 11:30pm during the week and 8am to 3:30pm on weekends, meaning queues can last hours and making it through the crossing can take an entire day.

During his visit to the region last month, Biden announced, according to Axios, that Israel had agreed to operate the crossing 24/7 for Palestinians by 30 September, but senior Israeli officials expect this deadline to be missed.

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US Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides has been following up with the Israelis to fulfil their pledge. He visited the crossing himself and was shocked when representatives of the Israel Airports Authority, which manages the bridge, told him the crossing would not be ready on time.

Israeli Transport Minister Merav Michaeli and her team stressed that the Israeli government should make good on its commitment to Biden, but said it was unlikely to happen on time due to a shortage of qualified workers.

She claimed that the Transport Ministry never committed to the 30 September deadline.

The situation triggered tension between Israeli Minister of Defence and the Transport Ministry as each blamed the other.

“The Ministry of Defence gave empty promises to the US without asking us,” a senior Transport official told Axios.

However, a senior Defence official said: “The Minister of Transportation was happy to tweet about this agreement but now nothing is ready.”

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