Israel seeking to change new Jordan visa policy

Jordan is tightening restrictions on entering the country via land crossings from Israel.

Yaakov Levi,

Allenby crossing
Allenby crossing
Flash 90

Jordan is tightening regulations on granting visas to visit the country, after the Foreign Ministry began investigating complaints by religious Israelis that Jordanian authorities were making it difficult for them to enter the country. Beginning January 1, any visitor from the Israeli side who wants to cross into the country via one of the land crossings from Israel will have to ask for a visa in advance, and pay $60 for the privilege.

Currently, visas are granted at the border, and are free. Free passage between the countries is one of the basic tenets of the Israel-Jordan peace accord. The Foreign Ministry is seeking to convince Jordan to suspend the rule for Israeli citizens, imposing it only on tourists who cross into Jordan.

The Foreign Ministry said last week that it is investigating several incidents in which Jordanian authorities have denied entry to the country for observant Jews, the latest last Wednesday evening, when Jews who were wearing kippahs and their religious garb were told they could not enter the country. In the wake of the incident, the Jordanian ambassador to Israel was asked to provide explanations at the Foreign Ministry Thursday

The incident echoed others in the recent past in which Jordan has refused entry to religious Jews who were carrying tefilin, phylacteries, with them. They were told that they had to leave them at the border if they wanted to enter the country. In the past Jordan has said that the reason was that they were afraid of unrest.

Israel has been quietly examining the issue, but in the wake of Wednesday's incident Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely has decided to get involved purposely. It should be noted, diplomats said, that both sides were striving to prevent the matter from turning into a hostile international incident, Israeli diplomats said.