Union members face probe into Israel visas in their passports

A union in Jordan is preparing to expel members who have passports stamped with visas from the Israeli Embassy in the nation’s capital, Amman, the Jordan Times reports today.

Union members recently visited the Palestinian Territories to participate in a conference for Palestinian engineers.

The Anti-Normalisation Committee of the Engineers Union said any member who has an Israeli stamp in his passport, to attend the conference, will be held responsible and face expulsion from the union.

Jordan along with Egypt have signed peace treaties with Israel several decades ago but key unions in both countries maintain virulent anti-Israel campaigns.

In Egypt the journalist union and the actors union recently issued expulsion threats against high profile members who they claim contravened union policy on Israel.

“All those proven to have their passports stamped by Israel will be referred to a disciplinary committee,” said Eisa Hamdan, president of the Anti-Normalisation Committee at the JEA.

“There was a precondition for the participation of JEA members. They were not supposed to obtain visas from the occupying Israeli authorities and instead enter the Palestinian territories through a special permit from the Palestinian Authority,” he said in a statement made available to The Jordan Times.

“Some members refused to have their passports stamped by Israel and returned home,” he said.

“We refuse any form of normalisation and believe any type of normalisation will harm Jordan,” he said, noting that around 100 JEA members entered the Palestinian territories to take part in the conference.

Jordan signed the Wadi Araba treaty with Israel in 1994, making it the second Arab country to sign a peace agreement with Israel following the 1978 Camp David Accords with Egypt.

However, union activists at the professional associations have been leading a campaign against normalisation with Israel since the treaty was signed.

Members of professional associations who are proven to have established contacts with the Israeli side face disciplinary measures including being expelled from the union and banned from practising their profession.

Also, anti-normalisation activists discourage local businessmen and companies from engaging in commercial activities with Israel.

Jordan imports exotic fruits, including mangoes and pineapples, from Israel, as well as tomatoes and carrots at certain times of the year.

According to Israeli figures, trade exchange with the Kingdom between January and July 2008 stood at $247 million, an increase of 59 per cent compared to the same period of 2007.