Israel revokes entry permits for Palestinian FM, senior officials over UN move

AFP , AP , Sunday 8 Jan 2023

Israel on Sunday revoked the Palestinian foreign minister's travel permit in part of a series of punitive steps against Palestinian officials announced days ago, only adding to the string of Palestinian officials restricted from entry into the occupied West Bank.

Karim Younis
Arab Israeli Karim Younis is carried by friends and relatives following his release after 40 years in an Israeli prison for kidnapping and murdering an Israeli soldier, on January 5, 2023, in the northern Israeli town of Ara. AFP


The move comes after the new hard-line government revoked the same permit for three senior Fatah party officials the previous day.

Palestinian FM Riad Malki said in a statement that he was returning from the Brazilian president's inauguration when he was informed that Israel rescinded his travel permit, which allows top Palestinian officials to travel easily in and out of the occupied West Bank, unlike ordinary Palestinians.

While Fatah officials Mahmud al-Alul, Azzam al-Ahmad, and Rawhi Fattouh had visited Karim Yunis an Israeli Arab in his home village of Ara in northern Israel following his release on Thursday after serving a 40-year sentence for killing an Israeli soldier.

"The three men took advantage of their status and entered Israel this morning (Saturday) to travel to the home of the terrorist Karim Yunis," the office of Defence Minister Yoav Galant said in a statement.

Galant ordered their Israeli entry permits be revoked in response, it added.

The move follows a decision Friday by Israel's security cabinet to withhold millions of dollars in revenues from the Palestinian Authority and impose a moratorium on Palestinian construction projects in most of the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

The office of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that decision was in response to the UN General Assembly's recent vote to refer Israel's occupation of the Palestinian territories to the International Court of Justice at the PA's request.

The Security Cabinet also targeted Palestinian officials directly, saying it would deny benefits to "VIPs who are leading the political and legal war against Israel.''

The decision highlights the tough line the current government is already taking toward the Palestinians just days into its tenure. It comes at a time of spiking violence in the occupied West Bank and as peace talks are a distant memory.

Netanyahu took office late last month at the head of a coalition with far-right and Jewish ultra-Orthodox parties that is regarded as the most right-wing in Israeli history.

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