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Jewish Journalist Bumped, Unbumped and Rebumped from Press Entourage Travelling with Bush to Jordan

The Jerusalem Post’s Washington correspondent, Wolf Blitzer, bumped and then un-bumped from the press entourage travelling with Vice President George Bush, has apparently received final word that he will not be welcome in Jordan.

Blitzer was to have joined the press contingent travelling with the Vice President in Jordan on Wednesday. Bush is currently on a 10-day three-nation tour of the Middle East, which includes stopovers in Israel and Egypt.

Blitzer, an American citizen and accredited White House correspondent, had originally been invited by Bush to join the press group, only to be told at the last moment that he would not be welcome in Jordan.

But Blitzer then received a call Tuesday from Bush’s press secretary travelling with the entourage in Jerusalem, Marlin Fitzwater, telling The Jerusalem Post reporter that “arrangements” had been made with Jordanian officials to allow for Blitzer’s participation in the Jordanian stop of Bush’s tour.

WAS ALL READY TO LEAVE

Blitzer was to have caught a plane Tuesday night from Washington to New York to connect with a flight that would bring him to Jordan. But poor weather conditions forced cancellation of the Washington to New York flight, forcing Blitzer to make other arrangements to leave Washington early Wednesday morning.

But he told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency in a telephone interview that late Tuesday night he received a call from Jerusalem Post editor Ari Rath, who had been informed by Craig Fuller, Bush’s Chief of Staff, that Jordan had reversed its decision to allow him into that country.

Fuller’s information came from the U.S. Ambassador to Jordan, Paul Boeker. The Bush official was told that “I would not be welcome in Jordan and that if I came to Jordan I would be detained at the transit hotel and put on the next flight out,” Blitzer told the JTA.

Blitzer originally secured a visa from the Jordanian Ambassador in Washington who had given the journalist his “strong assurances” of a welcome in Amman. But only a few hours before the trip, Blitzer was informed by Stephen Hart, assistant press secretary to the Vice President, that Hart had been told during his preparatory trip to Amman that Blitzer would not be welcomed because he was writing for The Jerusalem Post.

Blitzer said, however, that he had clarified the point with Ambassador Mohammed Kamal, who himself was said to have cleared the problem with Jordan’s Foreign Minister Taher El Masri. But Blitzer told the JTA on Wednesday, “Under the circumstances, I will not be going to Jordan. It sounds final to me.”

SPECULATES ON REASONS

Blitzer speculated that two reasons may have played a role in the Jordanian decision. The first was to prevent a Jerusalem Post reporter from travelling in Jordan. But the other appeared, Blitzer said, to be a result of Arab politics.

Blitzer said Jordan appeared to be taking a “hardline” approach to Israel in the immediate aftermath of Premier Shimon Peres’ two days of talks last week in Morocco with King Hassan. The issue of whether to allow Blitzer into Jordan “became part of the politics of the Arab world,” he said.

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