Israel Revokes Palestinian Foreign Minister’s VIP Status Due to Support for ICC War Crimes Investigation
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to an Axios report, al-Maliki was stopped at the crossing between Jordan and the West Bank because his VIP card had been revoked by the Shin Bet, Israel’s domestic security service.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.
The Palestinian Foreign Ministry issued an angry response, saying, “This proves Israel is a vengeful country that is unable to solve its problems in a lawful manner and has to use threats and sanctions.”
The ICC investigation, opened earlier this month, will apparently focus on Israel’s conduct in the 2014 war against the terror group Hamas, as well as its settlement activity in the West Bank.
Following the announcement of the investigation, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called it “the essence of antisemitism” and “the essence of hypocrisy.”
“The tribunal established to prevent a recurrence of the atrocities that the Nazis committed against the Jewish people is now turning against the state of the Jewish people,” he charged, “and, of course, does not say a word against Iran and Syria and other tyrannical regimes that commit real war crimes.”