Jordanian Lawmaker Asks Government to Clarify Denial of Transit Visas for Palestinians

Following Haaretz report, chairman of Palestine Committee in Jordanian parliament pledges not to 'remain silent' over any unexplained decision against Gazans.

Palestinians wait at the Rafah border crossing with Egypt after it was opened for two days by Egyptian authorities, May 11, 2016.
Said Khatib, AFP

The chairman of the Jordanian parliament's Palestine Committee announced on Monday that he has asked the kingdom's interior minister to provide clarifications concerning the report in Haaretz that the Jordanians have made it more difficult for Palestinians from Gaza to receive entry permits.

Yahya al-Saud, the chairman of the committee, said that if it turns out the reports are true, he intends to raise the matter for debate in parliament. He said that he would not be surprised if the reports were true, even though he has not received any complaints regarding the issue.

The Jordanian Interior Ministry routinely issued transit visas, subject to security checks, to Gazans seeking to reach foreign countries via Jordan. On Monday morning, Haaretz reported that Palestinian sources in the West Bank and Gaza Strip have found that requests are being rebuffed by Jordan with no explanation.

Al-Saud has asked the Palestinians to provide him with information on the matter, in order to help families and individuals who the government has refused entry permits. It is possible the government reached such a decision quietly and for various reasons, he said, including to prevent Jordan from turning into an alternative homeland for the Palestinians. "We will not remain silent and will not ignore any arbitrary and unexplained decision against the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip," said al-Saud.

Infographic of Exits from the Gaza Strip.
Haaretz

Many Gazans who left the Gaza Strip, whether for humanitarian reasons or for their studies, used to do so via the Erez crossing at the northeast end of the Gaza Strip. From there they traveled to the Allenby Bridge checkpoint, crossed into Jordan, and flew to other countries through the airport in Amman.

The Rafah crossing between the Gaza Strip and Egypt, which served as the main alternative for leaving Gaza, has been closed more and more frequently, and in the past few months it was open only for three days; less than 4,000 people came through the crossing during that time. In early 2013, when the Rafah crossing still served as an alternative for Gaza residents, some 40,000 people passed through it per month.

The Rafah crossing is subject to Egypt's unilateral security considerations and is closed most of the year.

A second possible route to leave Gaza is a flight from Ben-Gurion Airport to Cairo, but this option is available only in urgent humanitarian cases due to Israeli security objections. The most realistic route is through the Erez crossing to the Jordanian border at the Allenby Bridge checkpoint and then on to the airport in Amman.
 
To use the crossing at the Allenby Bridge, Jordan requires the use of "non-impediment" permits by Palestinians with blue Jordanian identity cards — that is, Palestinian residents of Gaza or the West Bank with origins in other Arab or Muslim countries who are not Jordanian citizens and whose families did not live in the West Bank before 1967, when it was under Jordanian control. Those with green Jordanian ID cards, whose families did reside in the West Bank before 1967, don’t need the permits; nor do Palestinians who are Jordanian citizens and have yellow Jordanian ID cards.

Since August, however, private individuals, lawyers and members of human rights groups have said the Jordanians have made it more difficult for Palestinians from Gaza to receive the special transit visas.