“Israel” Suspends Palestinian Foreign Minister’s Travel Pass after Visit to ICC
By Staff, Agencies
The foreign minister of the Palestinian Authority [PA] Riyad al-Maliki has had his special travel permit for senior officials removed on Sunday, following a visit to the International Criminal Court [ICC].
His team was also interrogated by “Israeli” intelligence services the same day that al-Maliki was informed that the VIP travel pass had been canceled.
This took place as the senior Palestinian diplomat entered Allenby crossing from Jordan into the West Bank, a top PA Foreign Ministry official Ahmad al-Deek told The Times of "Israel".
Typically, the VIP travel pass permits PA officials and staff to move through “Israeli” checkpoints without serious hurdles. According to al-Deek, however, the foreign minister's entourage was questioned by Shin Bet forces at the scene.
“The minister was held up for around half an hour, and his staff was delayed for around an hour, all told,” al-Deek said.
In response to reports that the move would not be permanent, al-Deek said he hopes that the “Israelis” could "clarify this to us", stressing that the PA Foreign Ministry had only been informed of the pass' cancellation.
According to the Times of “Israel”, an Israeli official confirmed that the incident took place but added that the cancelation of al-Maliki’s pass was a one-time decision.
The unnamed “Israeli” official did not specify why al-Maliki’s pass had been revoked but the PA Foreign Ministry said the “Israeli” entity had blocked his VIP permit due to Ramallah’s fervent cooperation with an ongoing ICC investigation into “Israeli” war crimes.
Later, al-Deek said in a statement to the official Palestinian Authority WAFA news agency that “‘Israel’ is unable to solve cases through the law, but instead resorts to a policy of intimidation, sanctions and threats".
Before he was stopped, al-Maliki was returning from Europe on a diplomatic trip, during which he visited the Hague to speak with outgoing ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda.
During the visit, the Palestinian diplomat called Bensouda to accelerate the pace of the investigation she initiated earlier this year.
“The foreign minister stressed…the importance of expediting investigations into the crimes committed in the territory of the State of Palestine, in a manner that ensures justice for the victims and their families among the Palestinian people", a statement from al-Maliki’s office read.
In March, Bensouda announced that she would initiate an investigation into “Israeli” and Palestinian activities in the West Bank, Gaza, and East AL-Quds [Jerusalem] during the summer of 2014.
“Israeli” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu slammed the ICC decision as "undiluted antisemitism," while the Palestinian authorities welcomed the investigation. The decision came just under a month after the court determined it had jurisdiction to launch the inquiry.
Palestinian authorities requested that the ICC investigate crimes committed on its territory by the “Israeli” entity back in May 2018. In December 2019, the prosecutor's office established that there was a reasonable basis to proceed with investigations into certain cases under the Rome Statute criteria.