Palestinian foreign minister says Israel revoked his travel permit | Israel

The Palestinian foreign minister says Israel has revoked his travel permit, after the hardline Israeli government announced a series of punitive measures against Palestinians several days ago.

Riyad Malki said in a statement that he was returning from the inauguration of the Brazilian president when he was informed that Israel had revoked his travel permit, which allows top Palestinian officials to easily travel in and out of the occupied West Bank, unlike ordinary Palestinians.

The Israeli government on Friday approved steps to punish Palestinians in retaliation for forcing the UN’s top judicial body to give its opinion on Israel’s occupation. The decision underscores the hard line the government is already taking toward the Palestinians just days into its mandate. It comes at a time of increased violence in the occupied West Bank, with peace talks a distant memory.

In East Jerusalem, a hotbed of Israeli-Palestinian tensions, Israeli police said they had interrupted a meeting of Palestinian parents about their children’s education, claiming it was being illegally funded by the Palestinian Authority (PA). Police said the operation was carried out at the behest of National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gwir, an ultranationalist with a long track record of anti-Arab rhetoric and stunts who now oversees the police.

Palestinians condemned the revocation of Malki’s permit, saying Israel should be “punished for violating international law.” Israeli officials could not immediately be reached for confirmation.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told a meeting of his cabinet on Sunday that the measures were aimed at what he called an “extreme anti-Israel” step at the UN.

On Friday, the government’s security cabinet decided that Israel would withhold $39 million (£32 million) from the PA and instead transfer the funds to a compensation program for families of Israeli victims of attacks by Palestinian militants.

It also said Israel would continue to withhold revenue it usually transfers to the PS – a sum equal to what the authority paid last year to the families of Palestinian prisoners and those killed in the conflict, including militants involved in attacks on Israelis. The Palestinian leadership describes the payments as necessary social assistance, while Israel says the so-called Martyrs’ Fund incites violence. Israel’s withheld funds threaten to exacerbate the PA’s fiscal problems.

The security cabinet also took direct aim at Palestinian officials, saying it would deny benefits to “VIPs waging a political and legal war against Israel.”

Saturday’s police operation came days after Ben-Gvir took office. Police claimed the parents’ meeting was funded by the PA and attended by its activists, which it said was a violation of Israeli law. Police said they prevented the meeting from taking place and acted on orders from Ben-Gvir to stop it. Police declined to provide evidence to support their claim, and a spokesman for Ben-Gwira referred questions to police.

Ziyad Shamali, head of the Union of Parents’ Student Councils in Jerusalem, which held the meeting, denied there was PA involvement, saying it was being held to discuss the shortage of teachers in East Jerusalem schools. He said he considered the allegation of links to the PA a “political excuse to ban” the meeting.

The PA was created to govern Gaza and parts of the occupied West Bank. Israel opposes any official work the PA does in East Jerusalem, and police have in the past cracked down on events they claimed were linked to the authorities.

Israel captured East Jerusalem in the 1967 war and later annexed it, a move not recognized by most of the international community. Israel considers that city its undivided, eternal capital. Palestinians are seeking the eastern sector of the city as the capital of their hoped-for state.

About a third of the city’s population is Palestinian, and they have long faced neglect and discrimination from Israeli authorities, including in education, housing and public services.

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