By Daoud Kuttab
This week, family and friends crossed international borders and military checkpoints and overcame the usual political bureaucracies to attend my daughter’s two weddings. Why two weddings? Let me explain.
Like me, my daughter Tamara is a Jerusalemite. The bridegroom, Alaa, lives in the Bethlehem-area town of Beit Jala. It takes minutes to move between these adjacent towns, but they are kilometres away because of the 45-year-old political and military situation caused by Israel’s occupation of Arab lands. Continue Reading »
By Daoud Kuttab
The first thing you notice upon entering Mitiga Airport in Tripoli is a series of signs with the word “No” in capital letters next to illustrations of automatic weapons. The second thing is just how liberally most Libyans interpret these rules.
In the days following the death of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, the rules were not quite in effect. Revolutionaries nonchalantly toted their Kalashnikovs and rocket-propelled grenade launchers as they whiled away their preboarding hours at the gate. An airport official roamed the terminal with a gun marked with a bar-code tag, beseeching the owner to claim his checked luggage. Continue Reading »
I splurged on myself this month. I spent $10,000 to make my life easier. This money was not spent on buying a new car or a more comfortable bed. In fact this money was spent without receiving any tangible commodity or service. I dolled out this money to make my travel from Amman to Jerusalem and back easier and faster. And I didn’t bribe anyone. In fact this week, it took me only two hours (possibly a record not accomplished in 44 years) to make it from Ramallah to Amman because of this expensive act.
This extraordinary sum of money was spent on getting my Jerusalem licensed 2004 VW Golf a second registration, customs and insurance in Jordan (customs and registration alone was JD6,900 nearly $10,000). And with the same car licensed insured and customs paid in both country, plus a permission from the Jordanian ministry of interior, I am able to travel by car across the King Hussein in my own car. Continue Reading »
Published in the Jerusalem Post February 11, 2011
By DAOUD KUTTAB
Several days before Tuesday January 18, someone in the IDF made a decision that affected thousands of people, Israelis, Palestinians and others. Hundreds of decisions like this are made on a daily basis in the IDF’s Tel Aviv headquarters. That day, Russian President Dimitry Medvedev was visiting Jericho, and so the King Hussein/Allenby Bridge was to close from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. The Palestinian Authority and the Jordanian government were not consulted and were apparently in the dark about it until the last minute. Many Palestinians in the West Bank and those outside wishing to travel, as well as foreigners planning to cross in either direction, found out only when attempting to access the bridge.
For years I have succeeded to avoid it, but for some reason, I fell in the trap. I am not sure if my decision to fly out of Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport rather than my usual starting point of Amman’s Queen Alia Airport was to see if things might have changes or some crazy sadistic desire to suffer on the hands of the Israeli airport security.
I started my trip early enough, leaving my Jerusalem home at 5am and arriving at the first airport checkpoint exactly two hours before flight time. I chose to drive the car rather than my 22 year old son with the hope that my gray hair would somewhat help. Not at all. While cars ahead of us and behind us were wized through, we were asked to pull over to the side. After handing him my US passport and my and my son’s Israeli blue residency ID card, the young Israeli security guards asked me to turn off the car and give him the keys. Not sure where he thought I would have run if he I was to keep the keys. Continue Reading »
(This was published in July 29th, 2010)
By Daoud Kuttab
Once again the summer heat is upon us. And once again, people’s anguish, and appeals at the overcrowded King Hussein Bridge are melting as quickly as an ice cream cone in the Jordan Valley’s high temperatures.
The King Hussein Bridge is the only crossing point available to the 3.5 million Palestinians of the West Bank. It is officially open from 8:00am till midnight, but in reality the last bus leaves at 10:00pm and people are often turned back on the Jordanian side after 9:00pm because of the summer congestion. More people are leaving the West Bank than visiting it, according to statistics issued by the Palestinian side. The Palestinian Authority reported that the traffic was moderate in first week of June. It saw the departure of 17,473 people from Jericho and the entry of 9,411 into the West Bank. This doesn’t include East Jerusalemites who cross the bridge directly without going to the Jericho crossing. Estimates of Jerusalemites who end up at the same terminal on the Jordanian side is about 3,500 a week. No published statistics have been issued by the Jordanian authorities. Continue Reading »
The announcement has been long awaited. The Israeli Airport Authority announced that starting August 4, the King Hussein Bridge (sometimes referred to as Allenby Bridge) will be open daily till midnight on a 60-day experimental basis.
Ever since the outbreak of Al Aqsa Intifada, the Palestinian police that were stationed at the bridge as part of the Oslo Accords, were sent packing to Jericho and bridge hours were reduced to 8:00am till 4:00pm for most passengers, while diplomats were allowed to use the crossing till 8:00pm.
Continue Reading »
Jun. 21, 2009
Daoud Kuttab , THE JERUSALEM POST
The suffering of Palestinians crossing the King Hussein Bridge, the only exit and entry point between the West Bank and Jordan, continues without any serious attempt at relief. While there is no doubt that the real remedy is the end of the occupation, genuine efforts should be exerted now to ease passage for individuals and families.
Continue Reading »
By Daoud Kuttab
March 9, 2006
I paid through my nose this week to get from Ramallah to Amman and the bridge wasn’t crowded like in the summer time.
It all started when I had to make an appointment at 2pm in Ramallah. The meeting went till 2:30 and by the time I took a taxi (for 20 shekes) to the Qalandia checkpoint it was already 2:45. The line was not long but by the time I got out it was already close to 3. I hailed a taxi and haggled him to the normal price of 150 shekels. Continue Reading »
December 27, 2005
My trip from Amman to Ramallah this week was quite unusual. I succeeded in making the door to door trip in less than three hours. The taxi, driven by the veteran Haj Abdel Salam (who has been on the Amman-Bridge route for 38 years) picked me up from my Rabiah home shortly after seven am. I managed to get through the Jordanian passport control rather quickly, got was one of the last people to get on the first bus and was one of the first people to get off. Got through the Israeli passport control rather quickly (since I was the first there). Continue Reading »