The Palestinian foreign minister’s visa was withdrawn by Israel on Sunday as part of a slew of sanctions against the Palestinians that the country’s new hard-line cabinet had previously declared.
In a statement, Riad Malki said that he was returning from the inauguration of the president of Brazil when he learned that Israel had revoked his travel authorization, which allowed senior Palestinian officials to move about the occupied West Bank more conveniently than regular Palestinians. It was unclear if other officials’ permits had also been suspended.
Maliki’s licence being cancelled was confirmed by Israel’s Defense Ministry. It was unclear if other officials’ permits had also been suspended.
In retribution for the Palestinians pressuring the UN’s top court to express an opinion on the Israeli occupation, the Israeli cabinet approved the measures to punish the Palestinians on Friday.
Though not legally enforceable, the International Court of Justice’s decisions can have an impact on public perception.
The choice emphasises the firm stance the new administration is already adopting toward the Palestinians only a few days into office. It takes place at a time when Israeli military raids in the occupied West Bank are on the rise.
The Palestinians criticised Maliki’s permit being revoked and asserted that Israel had to be “punished for its transgressions against international law.”
At a Sunday Cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated that the actions against the Palestinians were in response to what he called “an extreme anti-Israel” UN resolution.
Israel withheld $39 million from the Palestinian Authority on Friday to put the money toward a scheme to compensate the families of Israelis killed in Palestinian militant attacks, the government’s Security Cabinet determined.
Israel would also take additional deductions from the money it typically sends to the cash-strapped PA, it was announced. These deductions would equal the money the PA paid last year to the families of Palestinian prisoners and those who died in the conflict, including militants involved in attacks against Israelis.
Israel claims that the so-called Martyrs’ Fund encourages violence, whereas the Palestinian leadership views the payments as an important social aid. Israel’s withheld money poses a risk of making the PA’s financial problems worse.
Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh declared, “Israel’s blackmailing of our tax revenues will not stop us from continuing our political and diplomatic struggle.” He continued by saying that the Israeli actions would worsen the financial situation and fiscal deficit in Palestine.