Who loses out? Jordan introduces visa restrictions at Aqaba-Eilat crossing
The Aqaba-Eilat crossing, known as Arava on the Israeli side. (Focused Flyer)
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Jordan has announced a toughening of visa requirements at one of its crossings with Israel, Channel 10 news reported Sunday, a possible result of ongoing tensions between the two governments.
As of January 1, 2016, travelers to Jordan via the Arava crossing in Eilat will be required to apply for a visa two weeks in advance and will pay a $60 fee (as opposed to the free, on the spot visa that is currently granted).
The Channel 10 report speculated that the move may be tied to Israel’s construction of the new international Ramon Airport north of Eilat, which could draw more tourists to Israel’s Red Sea resorts and hurt Jordan’s tourism industry.
Israeli officials said they were looking into the new regulations and were making efforts to overturn them.
A Foreign Ministry official called the move “unfortunate” and said it hurt the “delicate relations between the two nations.”
Ties between the neighboring countries have been strained recently over Israeli-Palestinian violence in Jerusalem revolving around the Temple Mount.
In November thousands of Jordanians took to the streets in several Jordanian cities calling on the government to scrap its 1994 peace treaty with Israel in response to Israeli “violations” against Palestinians.
Jordan has custodian rights over the Temple Mount compound in Jerusalem, a site holy to both Muslims and Jews and scene of clashes last month between Palestinians youths and Israeli forces.
Palestinians accuse Israel of planning to change the status quo at the site. The Israeli government has repeatedly denied any intention of altering the status quo on the site, the holiest in Judaism and third-holiest in Islam, where Jews are currently permitted to visit but not to pray.
In September, Jordan’s King Abdullah II warned that clashes at the Temple Mount could have “serious consequences” and that any “provocation” in Jerusalem could damage ties between Jordan and Israel.
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