Gantz slams Netanyahu over tit-for-tat airspace spat with Jordan

Netanyahu closed Israeli airspace to Jordan in tit-for-tat dispute: reports
2 min read
15 March, 2021
The Israeli defence minister accused Netanyahu of endangering Israel's national security.
Gantz accused Netanyahu of jeopardising Israel's national security [Getty]

Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz has accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of endangering Israel's national security, following reports that the premier ordered the closing of Israel's airspace to flights heading to and from Jordan. 

Netanyahu reportedly ordered the move in retaliation to Amman's delaying airspace approval for his flight to the United Arab Emirates last week.

"Netanyahu is motivated by personal, political needs and is violating diplomatic agreements…The attempt to bypass the defence establishment and foreign service upends the entire… decision-making system of the state," Blue and White Party leader Gantz tweeted.

"This just shows that he has entirely lost his reason and is doing everything to take care of himself instead of the country," he added.

According to officials cited by Maariv journalist Ben Caspit, Netanyahu urged transportation minister Miri Regev to convey the order to the Israel Airports Authority and the Civil Aviation Authority, bypassing key ministries, cabinet members, Mossad and Shin Bet.

Under the 1994 Israeli-Jordanian peace agreement, Jordan and Israel are required to allow each other's planes to fly through the other's airspace.

On Thursday, Netanyahu was slated to make the first official visit by an Israeli leader to the UAE, half a year after the countries established formal relations. He had hoped to use the audience with the UAE's crown prince to boost his reelection campaign less than two weeks before Israel's March 23 parliamentary elections.

The Prime Minister's Office said it had difficulties coordinating the flight over Jordanian airspace after Jordan's crown prince canceled a visit to the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, a sensitive holy site under Jordanian custodianship, due to disagreements over security arrangements.

The prime minister insisted that relations between the two countries were positive, adding that "Jordan needs good relations with us no less than we need good relations with Jordan".

Follow us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram to stay connected