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Israel mulls fence to protect controversial planned airport

By Khetam Malkawi , AFP - Mar 14,2015 - Last updated at Mar 14,2015

AMMAN/OCCUPIED JERUSALEM — Israeli security officials have recommended building a barrier along the border with Jordan — across Aqaba in the south, a move an official source in Amman described as “sovereign” as long as it is within Israel.  

“Israel is free to do anything it wants within its borders,” the official said on Saturday, commenting on an Agence France-Presse (AFP) report.

The fence is meant to protect the Timna airport, some 20km north of Eilat. Amman has previously described the airport as a threat to the Kingdom’s airspace. 

In January, the government said it has taken all measures to protest the Israeli plan to construct the Eilat Timna International Airport, which it considers a threat to its airspace security. During a House session, Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour said that the government is aware of all the details regarding the plan, adding that the Foreign Ministry, through Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh, has made all the necessary contacts with international parties and Israeli officials to assert that the airport's location constitutes a violation to Jordan's sovereignty. 

The Foreign Ministry had previously said the airport is in violation of international laws, especially Article 1 of the 1944 Convention on International Civil Aviation.

Work has already begun on the new airport, AFP reported.

Apart from the airport issue, Israel can build the fence “as long as the barrier will not be built on the West Bank lands that Jordan considers Palestinian territories”, the source told The Jordan Times on condition of anonymity.

Jordan recognised Israel when the two sides signed a peace pact in 1994.

AFP quoted Israeli daily Haaretz as saying that the planned 30km barrier was designed both to protect the airport and to foil attempts by would-be “jihadist infiltrators” from Jordan.

It was unclear whether Tel Aviv would approve construction of the fence, it added.

Israel has a fence on its southern border with Egypt, also near Eilat, that was erected in 2013 to keep out illegal African immigrants.

It also has a border fence with the Gaza Strip and barriers on the frontiers with Syria and Lebanon, both countries it is technically at war with.

The huge steel fence that runs along the Syrian frontier through the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights was built after the Syrian civil war broke out, for fear of a spillover of fighting and an influx of refugees.

Israel also has a vast separation barrier that runs through the West Bank, which it began building during the second Palestinian Intifada, or uprising, which lasted from 2000-2005.

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