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Israel Revokes Travel Rights Of Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister 

Israel on Sunday revoked the VIP pass of Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki, in line with a Cabinet decision.
Former and designated Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at the Israeli parliament during a new government sworn in discussion at the Israeli parliament on December 29, 2022 in Jerusalem, Israel. The decision highlights the tough line the current government is already taking toward the Palestinians just days into its tenure. AMIR LEVY/JNS

Israel on Sunday revoked the VIP pass of Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki, in line with a Cabinet decision last week to sanction Ramallah in response to the U.N.’s passage, at the P.A.’s behest, of a resolution asking the International Court of Justice to weigh in on the legal status of the West Bank.

Border officials stopped al-Malki as he crossed from Jordan into the P.A., and confiscated the travel document allowing him to expedite or altogether bypass normal security checks in Judea and Samaria. 

“In the diplomatic sphere, the Security Cabinet convened last Thursday and decided on a series of measures against the Palestinian Authority for advancing a radical anti-Israel decision at the U.N.,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday. 

“These steps include sanctions against senior Palestinian officials, the offsetting of terrorist funds and the freezing of Palestinian construction projects in Area C, which contravene the explicit commitments that the P.A. has taken upon itself. 

“We have established a different government with a different policy, and everyone will see this,” added Netanyahu. 

Ahmed al-Deek, an aide to al-Maliki, said that the Palestinian diplomat “will continue his job with or without the card.” 

The official P.A. Wafa news agency reported on Sunday that Ramallah was “considering a legal and political response to the vindictive measures,” which al-Malki claimed violate international law. He added that “work is underway to build an international public opinion against the occupying regime by exposing its crimes before the countries of the world.” 

The decision to retaliate against Ramallah came a week after the U.N. General Assembly passed a resolution calling on the ICJ to “render urgently an advisory opinion” on Israel’s “prolonged occupation, settlement and annexation of Palestinian territory.” 

The Security Cabinet decided to withhold taxes and tariffs collected on behalf of and transferred to the P.A., in an amount equal to that which Ramallah paid to terrorists and their families in 2022 under its “pay-for-slay” policy. An additional sum of nearly $40 million was deducted from the same P.A. pool of funds, to be disbursed to Israeli victims of Palestinian terrorism. 

A convoy of Palestinian ambulance vehicles moves along the border fence between Israel and the Gaza Strip east of Gaza City during a protest against Israel’s prevention of allowing diagnositc medical equipment to enter hospitals in the Palestinian enclave, on January 9, 2023. The Palestinians condemned the revoking of Malki’s permit, saying Israel should be the one being “punished for its violations against international law.” MAJDI FATHI/JNS

The Knesset had previously passed legislation mandating such deductions. However, the Bennett-Lapid government repeatedly found loopholes to delay its implementation. 

Netanyahu had said that the “distorted” and “disgraceful” U.N. move would not obligate or restrain his government, adding: “The Jewish people is not occupying its land and is not occupying its eternal capital Jerusalem. No U.N. resolution can distort this historical truth.” 

Meanwhile, the Israeli Defense Ministry over the weekend suspended the entry permits to Green Line Israel of three other senior P.A. officials after they participated in a homecoming ceremony for a convicted terrorist released from prison. 

Issued under interim accords with Israel from the 1990s, the cards ease travel across the Israeli-controlled West Bank border with Jordan and from Palestinian-ruled territory into Israel.

“The foreign minister will continue his job and his diplomatic activities with or without the card,” Ahmed Al-Deek, an aide to Maliki, told Reuters.

The three officials, including an assistant to P.A. chief Mahmoud Abbas, arrived in the Arab Israeli town of ’Ara, in northern Israel, to greet Karim Younis, an Israeli jailed for murdering IDF Cpl. Avraham Bromberg on the Golan Heights in 1980. 

The three men were identified as Mahmoud al-Aloul, deputy chairman of Fatah’s Central Committee, Azam al-Ahmad and Ravhi Fatuh. 

On Sunday, Israeli National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir announced the cancelation of a regulation implemented by the previous government that allowed any lawmaker to meet with jailed Palestinian terrorists

Ben-Gvir said that he took the step after “concluding that these visits resulted in incitement and the promotion of terrorist actions.” 

The policy will now revert to that of the past when only one legislator from each political party was permitted to meet with imprisoned terrorists, and under “appropriate supervision.”

It also said Israel would further deduct revenue it typically transfers to the cash-strapped PA — a sum equal to the amount the authority paid last year to families of Palestinian prisoners and those killed in the conflict, including militants implicated in attacks against Israelis. The Palestinian leadership describes the payments as necessary social welfare, while Israel says the so-called Martyrs’ Fund incentivizes violence. Israel’s withheld funds threaten to exacerbate the PA’s fiscal woes.

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.”

 

Produced in association with Jewish News Syndicate.

(Additional reporting provided by Alberto Arellano)

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