Jordan Vows to Keep Ghoshe in Amman Airport until Qatar Takes Him Back
Jordan vowed Sunday to keep Ibrahim Ghoshe, a Jordanian citizen and spokesman for the militant Palestinian Hamas group, detained in Amman's airport until Qatar flies him back into exile in the Gulf emirate.
Ghoshe, of Palestinian origin, has been locked in a standoff with Jordan since his arrival at Amman's airport Thursday from Qatar, when he attempted to return home after being banished from the kingdom in 1999.
"Ghoshe will stay in the airport's transit room until he returns to Qatar on the same plane which brought him, and we will not come down from this position," Jordanian Information Minister Saleh Qallab said Sunday, cited by the official Petra news agency.
Qallab accused Qatari officials of having tried to create a crisis by "pushing" Ghoshe to return.
The Qatar Airways plane remains grounded at the airport.
"If Ghoshe wants to stay here as a Jordanian citizen and to enter Jordan, he must announce that he is no longer a member of the political office or a spokesman for Hamas and will not be a Hamas member in the future," the minister said.
Qallab affirmed Jordan's commitment to the expulsion of Ghoshe and three other Hamas members to Doha in November 1999.
Jordan banned Hamas in August 1999 for threatening the country's stability and engaging in illegal activities.
"Jordan, which is concerned about preserving its good relations with Qatar, is astonished and regrets the fact that certain Qatari officials have brought us this crisis," Qallab said.
He called Qatar's attitude "a stab in the chest."
The minister added that the eight-member Qatari flight crew, currently at an Amman hotel, was free to leave the country, but the plane would not leave without Ghoshe.
He described a Libyan offer to fly Ghoshe back to Doha as not making "any progress."
Meanwhile, Royal Jordanian scrapped a flight to Doha on Sunday in retaliation for the Ghoshe affair.
No official announcement was made by the Jordanian carrier, said AFP.
But a travel agency employee told AFP on condition of anonymity that "a Royal Jordanian return flight from Amman to Doha planned for this morning has been cancelled."
It was unclear if the other scheduled flights on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday were also scrapped, he said.
The head of Jordan's Civil Aviation Authority, Jihad Rsheid, was quoted in the Jordan Times as having called for the cancellation of Qatar Airways flights to Amman.
Rsheid had sent a strongly-worded message to his Qatari counterpart Abdul Aziz Noaimi demanding the suspension of Qatar Airways flights to Amman pending the resolution of the crisis, the paper said.
It added that Rsheid "asked for the suspension of the flights because Qatar may have planned to send back three other exiled Hamas leaders (also banished to Qatar in 1999) despite Jordan's refusal."
One of the three, Hamas politburo chief Khaled Mishaal, on Sunday also demanded the right to return.
"We have left it up to Qatari mediation and the Jordanian justice system for the past year and seven months. Now, the only alternative is for us to return to Jordan," he told AFP.
"As for me, I will exercise my right of return to Jordan at the appropriate time," said Mishaal, adding that Libya and Yemen were trying to mediate in the Ghoshe affair.
"We welcome any mediation, so long as it is on the basis of Ghoshe's return to Jordan and not his transfer to any Arab country."
The spiritual leader of Hamas, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, also stepped into the fray, appealing directly to Jordan's King Abdullah to allow the movement's spokesman Ghoshe into Jordan.
"I asked King Abdullah II to intervene directly to allow Ibrahim Ghoshe to stay in his country in his land, Jordan, and to live with his family and his sons," he said in a statement.
"It is his right as a resident under Jordanian law."
On the political front, Qatar's Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Ahmad bin Abdullah Al Mahmoud was quoted by the Gulf Times as saying that "Qatar is keen to maintain its solid relations with the Hashemite kingdom."
But the minister charged that "the blocking of the plane is illegal."
Mahmoud said the deported Hamas leaders were "guests" in Doha and stressed they were free to travel. "We can't act as police for others," he said – Albawaba.com
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