Palestinian Foreign Minister says Israel has revoked its travel permit | Israel

The Palestinian foreign minister says Israel has revoked its travel permit after the hard-line Israeli government announced a series of punitive measures against the Palestinians days ago.

Riad Malki said in a statement that he was returning from Brazil’s presidential inauguration when he was told Israel had revoked its travel permit, which allows senior Palestinian officials to enter and exit the occupied West Bank with ease, unlike ordinary Palestinians .

The Israeli government on Friday approved moves to punish the Palestinians in retaliation for urging the United Nations’ highest judicial body to give its opinion on the Israeli occupation. The decision underscores the hard line the government is taking towards the Palestinians just days into office. It comes at a time of rising violence in the occupied West Bank, with peace talks a distant memory.

In east Jerusalem, a hotspot of Israeli-Palestinian tensions, Israeli police said they broke up a meeting of Palestinian parents about their children’s education, claiming it was illegally funded by the Palestinian Authority (PA). Police said the operation came at the behest of National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, an ultra-nationalist with a long history of anti-Arab rhetoric and stunts who now oversees the police.

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

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

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

It also said Israel would deduct further proceeds it normally sends to the struggling PA — a sum equivalent to the amount the agency paid last year to families of Palestinian prisoners and those killed in the conflict, including militants involved in attacks on Israelis were involved. The Palestinian leadership describes the payments as necessary social assistance, while Israel says the so-called Martyrs’ Fund encourages violence. Israel’s withheld funds threaten to exacerbate the PA’s budget problems.

The security cabinet also targeted Palestinian officials directly, saying it would deny benefits to “VIPs who are waging the political and legal war against Israel.”

The police operation on Saturday came days after Ben-Gvir took office. Police claimed the parents’ meeting was funded by the PA and attended by its activists, which they say violates Israeli law. Police said they prevented the meeting, acting on orders from Ben-Gvir to shut it down. Police declined to provide evidence to support their claim and a Ben-Gvir spokesman referred questions to police.

Ziad Shamali, the chairman of the Association of Students-Parents Committees in Jerusalem, which held the meeting, denied PA involvement and said it was held to discuss a teacher shortage in East Jerusalem schools. He said he saw the allegation by PA links as a “political pretext” for banning the meeting.

The PA was formed to administer Gaza and parts of the occupied West Bank. Israel refuses all official business conducted by the PA in East Jerusalem, and police have in the past broken up events they have claimed are connected to the agency.

Israel captured East Jerusalem in the 1967 war and later annexed it, a move unrecognized by most of the international community. Israel regards the city as its undivided, eternal capital. The Palestinians are looking for the eastern sector of the city as the capital of their hoped-for state.

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

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