Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Atarot Airport

(Israel Twitter)Atarot Airport (IATA: JRS, ICAO: LLJR), (also Kalandia Airport) is a small airport located between Jerusalem and Ramallah. It was the first airport in Mandate Palestine. It has been closed since the Second Intifada.

Until 1930, the airfield in Kalandia was the only airport in Palestine. It was used by the British military authorities and prominent guests bound for Jerusalem.
The airport was located near Atarot, a Jewish village captured and destroyed by the Jordanian Arab Legion during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, and to the Arab village of Kalandia (after 1948, also a refugee camp of the same name). Both had at different times, and under different political circumstances, given their name to the airport.
The airport was controlled by Jordanian troops from 1948 until the Six-Day War in June 1967, after which it was unilaterally incorporated into the Greater Jerusalem municipal area.
In the 1970s and early 1980s the Israeli authorities invested considerable resources in upgrading the airport and creating the infrastructure for a full-fledged international airport, which was intended to become the equal of Israel's Ben Gurion Airport. However, such efforts run afoul of the area's disputed international position. International bodies in general and international aviation authorities in particular proved unwilling to recognize it as part of Israel - its ambiguous situation reflected in having two divergent ICAO codes (see below).

In maps presented by Israel at the Camp David talks in the summer of 2000, Atarot was included in the Israeli built-up area of Jerusalem. This was firmly rejected by the Palestinian delegation, which claimed the place as the future Palestinian National Airport, to serve Palestinian East Jerusalem and the whole of the West Bank. This was one aspect of the disagreements which caused the Camp David talks' collapse and the descent into violence and bloodshed.
Yossi Beilin, at the time an Israeli government minister and senior negotiatiator, later a peace activist and founder of the Geneva Initiative, proposed that the airport be used jointly by Israel and Palestine, as part of an overall sharing of Jerusalem. Beilin cited the successful model of Geneva International Airport, which is used by both Switzerland and France. While Palestinians did not reject this idea out of hand, the Israeli governments headed by Sharon, Olmert and Netanyahu were all cool to it.
On 29 December 2009 the Palestinian Authority cabinet under Salam Fayyad announced its intentition to claim the Kalandia Airport for the future State of Palestine, which Fayyad aims to bring into being by 2011.
A future new revenant Jewish neighbourhood has been suggested on the land of the current airport.

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