Jordan, Israel Quietly Talk Over Timna Airport

Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz promises new airport to open despite opposition from Amman.

Tova Dvorin,

Yisrael Katz
Yisrael Katz
Miriam Alster/Flash 90

Jordan and Israel are quietly holding talks about the airport being built in Timna, Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz (Likud) revealed Thursday - months after Amman complained to the UN International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) over the project. 

"We are managing this," Katz stated to Israel Radio. "The Jordanians are displaying sensitivity regarding the issue." 

"We are, in coordination with various agencies, handling contacts with them discreetly, and the fact is that construction is progressing and the airport will function," he added. 

Earlier Thursday, the Transportation Ministry noted that Timna airport "is being built in accordance with ICAO regulations and, as such, does not create safety risks for the airport at Aqaba." 

Amman appealed to the ICAO in June, according to Al-Arabiya, after it claimed that the new project constituted a safety risk - as Aqaba's King Hussein International Airport some 10km southwest of Timna serves air traffic on the Jordanian side of the Red Sea. 

The Timna airport, also known as the Ilan and Assaf Ramon Airport, will eventually replace the Eilat airport as Israel's southern air hub. It will also serve as a diversion airport for Ben-Gurion Airport in Lod. The airport is slated to be finished in 2017; recent reports indicate it may even be finished as early as late 2016. 

Despite having signed a peace treaty in 1994, there have been some tensions between Jordan and Israel. 

Jordan recently threatened to revoke the peace treaty on several occasions while pressuring Israel to allow the Jordanian Waqf to continue denying Jews their rights to pray at the Temple Mount, the holiest site in Judaism. Jordanian Ambassador to Israel Walid Obeidat was recalled to Jordan last November until February in an act of protest over talk in Israel of allowing Jews to pray on the Mount.