Jordan has lashed out at Israel for opening a new international airport close to the Red Sea and a few kilometers from the Jordanian border, denouncing the measure as a threat to the kingdom’s airspace and territorial integrity.
Ramon Airport, located near the Red Sea resort city of Eilat in Israel, was inaugurated by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday.
The new Israeli airport sits just across the border from Jordan’s King Hussein International Airport in the Red Sea port city of Aqaba.
“Jordan rejects the establishment of the Israeli airport in its current location,” the head of Jordan’s Civil Aviation Regulatory Commission, Haitham Misto, said, adding that the airport violated “international standards regarding respect for the sovereignty of airspace and territory of other countries.”
Misto also said that Jordan had notified the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) of “the kingdom’s strong objection.”
The official said Amman had called on the ICAO to “take all necessary measures to ensure that Israel complies with international standards.”
Misto said the committee had contacted the Israeli authorities and “informed them that the decision to operate the airport should not be taken unilaterally until all outstanding matters are resolved.”
Jordan “reserves all options to ensure the defense of the kingdom’s interests and protection,” he added.
Jordanian media also said the kingdom’s authorities had lodged a complaint with international bodies over the Israeli airport, without giving further details.
Jordan initially voiced its objection to Ramon Airport when the construction began in 2013.
Speaking at the opening ceremony on Monday, Netanyahu said the $500 million facility would serve as an emergency alternative to Tel Aviv’s Ben-Gurion airport.
“The airport will be a focal point of activity, with domestic and international flights. It will give us further strategic capabilities in times of normal activity and when needed, in times of emergency,” he said. “It will give Israel another civilian airfield so that aviation routes will not be harmed.”
The airport’s website says it will be able to initially handle up to two million passengers per year but will expand to a capacity of 4.2 million by 2030.
Israel and Jordan have maintained diplomatic relations since they signed a peace deal in 1994. However, many Jordanians strongly oppose Amman’s ties with Tel Aviv.
Last month, Jordan’s minister for media affairs and communications and government spokesperson stepped on an Israeli flag painted on the floor of the trade union headquarters in Amman while on her way for a meeting.