Israeli officials announced that Israel’s Homeland Security Agency (Shin Bet) removed consideration of Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad Al-Maliki from its top visitor list after he returned to the West Bank from Jordan yesterday.
Al-Maliki and his aides were arrested by Shin Bet when they came to the West Bank from Jordan on Sunday.
Israeli officials say al-Maliki’s status as a key figure in the Israeli government has been revoked this time and could remain if al-Maliki continues his actions.
According to official sources, the unusual move was in retaliation for Maliki’s payment International Criminal Court investigation against Israel. The canceled card will facilitate movement and access around the West Bank and border crossings, according to American Axios’ website.
This is the first time Israel has imposed sanctions on a Palestinian official since the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court decided to open an investigation into the situation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
For years, the Israeli government has been working to avoid any decision by the ICC against its actions in the West Bank or Gaza Strip.
Al-Maliki returned after a visit to The Hague where he met Fatou Bensouda, Attorney General of the International Criminal Court.
According to a statement from his office, al-Maliki asked the public prosecutor to accelerate the investigation into Israel that had been announced a few weeks ago. Al-Maliki informed the attorney general that the Palestinians will support the work of the ICC and will cooperate with the court and its staff in the investigation.
A senior Israeli official told Axios that al-Maliki is leading the Palestinian trials before the International Criminal Court aimed at restricting the free movement of Israeli officials and endangering their security.
Such measures are consistent with current relations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Because of this, we decided that there is no need for Maliki to enjoy privileges when passing the border crossings, the official said.
The Palestinian Foreign Ministry said in a statement that it would inform many of its partners around the world about the Israeli sanctions. “This proves that Israel is a retaliatory state, unable to resolve its problems legally, and that it must use threats and sanctions,” the statement said.
Israeli officials said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu approved the move. It is part of a series of retaliatory measures Israel will take against the Palestinians to press for an investigation.
A week ago, the Shin Bet director met Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah and confirmed that the Palestinian steps had crossed the border at the International Criminal Court and warned against reaction.
Two weeks ago, the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court sent an official letter to Israel and the Palestinians announcing that they would accept the investigation. The parties have 30 days to respond and let the prosecutor know if they wish to conduct their own investigation before the ICC investigates the matter.
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