Israel revoked the VIP status of Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki on Sunday, reportedly due to his support for the International Criminal Court’s investigation of alleged Israeli war crimes.
According to an Axios report, al-Maliki was stopped at the crossing between Jordan and the West Bank because his VIP card had been revoked by the Shin Bet, Israel’s domestic security service.
Unnamed officials told Axios that the move was prompted by al-Maliki’s advocacy of an ICC investigation of Israel. Al-Maliki was returning from a meeting in the Hague with the ICC’s chief prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, when he was stopped. He reportedly told Bensouda that the ICC will have full Palestinian cooperation.
This marks the first time a Palestinian official has been sanctioned by Israel because of the war crimes investigation.
A senior Israeli official told Axios that the sanction was intended as a tit-for-tat retaliation, since the ICC investigation is being used by the Palestinians to restrict the freedom of movement of Israeli officials and military personnel.
“Such actions are in line with the current relationship between Israel and the Palestinian Authority,” he said. “This is why we decided there is no reason Al-Maliki enjoys privileges when he passes through border crossings.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly approved the sanction, with further such moves likely to follow. The head of the Shin Bet, Nadav Argaman, met with PA President Mahmoud Abbas last week and told him that Israel would retaliate for the Palestinians’ attempts to exploit the ICC against Israel. Continue Reading…