Amman Threatens to Force Hamas Leader Back on Qatari Aircraft

Published June 16th, 2001 - 02:00 GMT

Jordanian authorities threatened Saturday to force Ibrahim Ghosheh, a Jordanian citizen and spokesman for the militant Palestinian Hamas group, back on to the Qatari airplane that brought him to Jordan, said AFP. 

Ghosheh, 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 living in exile since 1999. 

Al Jazeera satellite TV channel reported that the pilot of the Qatar Airways plane on which Ghosheh arrived had received orders to fly back to Doha without him. 

But the plane is still parked at the Amman airport, from which it has been refused permission to take off. 

Jordan has the right to put Ghosheh back on the airplane, "even if by force," Jihad Rsheid, head of the civil aviation authority, was quoted as saying by the official Petra news agency. 

Rsheid accused Qatar Airways of having planned in advance Ghosheh's return to Jordan on Thursday night, after his exile to Doha along with three other Hamas leaders in November 1999. 

"Sadly, the Qatari airlines are trying to wash their hands of this business, which they planned and prepared," he said following Jordan's demand Friday for Qatar to suspend all flights to Amman. 

Al Jazeera said Saturday that the crew of the Qatar Airways plane had received permission to return to Qatar, while Ghosheh stayed in a special airport waiting room. 

On Friday, Yemen and Libya intervened to hammer out a solution to the spiraling conflict between Jordan and Qatar.  

According to reports, Libya offered to send an aircraft to take Gosheh back to Qatar, after the captain of the Qatari flight refused do so “against [Goshe's] will.”  

Al Jazeera reported that Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh had called the Qatari emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, in an attempt to defuse the dispute.  

Jordan's Thursday decision to block the attempted return to Amman of the exiled spokesman triggering a harsh Qatari official response.  

"Airport officials were surprised today to see Ibrahim Ghosheh arrive on board a flight from Doha and told him he could not enter the country in line with an agreement previously reached with the authorities," a source told Jordan’s news agency Petra.  

Al Jazeera quoted a Qatari Foreign Ministry official as voicing his country’s “astonishment” at Jordan’s allegations that the banished Islamist had been sent back at the instructions of Qatari authorities.  

Ghosheh and three other senior Hamas officials, all Jordanian citizens, were deported to Qatar in November 1999 after being held for three months on charges of belonging to an illegal group and threatening Jordan's security.  

Jordan, which signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1994, cracked down on Hamas in August 1999, closing its offices in Amman and arresting the leaders and two dozen members. The members were later released.  

Meanwhile, the head of Hamas’ politburo, Khaled Mishaal, told Al Jazeera that the group had known of Ghosheh’s plan and approved it. He also denied that the Qatari government had anything to do with the spokesman’s attempted return to Jordan.  

Mishaal had told the Qatari paper Al Raya on Wednesday that all mediation efforts aimed at securing his and his colleagues’ return to Amman had failed, but vowed they would return “despite the Jordanian authorities’ rejection.”  

Mishaal did not specify a date for his return, but said that the chances for his colleagues Ghosheh, Izzat Rishiq and Sami Khater to return were stronger than his.  

The Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood slammed the government for “violating the constitution” by barring a citizen from entering his country – Albawaba.com  

 

 

 

 

© 2001 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)


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