JERUSALEM (Jun. 26)
Describing the Allenby Bridge as “our biggest entry port after Lod” (Ben Gurion Airport), Defense Minister Shimon Peres said today that the open bridges policy which permits Arabs from neighboring countries to visit their relatives and friends in the administered territories and East Jerusalem, would remain in effect this summer despite the mounting incidence of terrorist acts and sabotage.
Standing in the center of the span that links the West Bank with Jordan, Peres said he would not make the generalization that all who pass over the bridge are potential terrorists. He even conceded that the political sympathy with the PLO held by many visitors did not mean they approved of terrorist acts. He indicated that Israel had ample means of checking out each visitor. Peres noted that while security measures have been tightened at the Jordan River crossings, special arrangements were being made to ease the entry process. He said that about 64,000 have crossed the bridges since the beginning of this month, 25,000 of them summer visitors from Arab countries.
The terminal on the Israeli side of the bridge indeed resembles any busy travel center and hardly gives the appearance of a border post between two hostile countries. Everything from private cars to trucks and air conditioned tourist buses line up in both directions as impatient tourists wait for customs and security officers to pass them through. But security measures are much stricter than elsewhere. The contents of passengers’ luggage is spread on tables and trucks are examined from top to bottom.