Jordan Balks at Israeli Airport Plan

AMMAN, Jordan (AP) -

Jordan criticized an Israeli plan Wednesday 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 yards away from the Jordanian one on the Gulf of Aqaba, which would present an unacceptable risk to air traffic safety.

“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 disrupt 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 “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 “measures 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.