Senior PA negotiator Nabil Shaath has been stripped of his VIP travel card by Benjamin Netanyahu’s office. According to Yedioth Ahronoth, the prime minister’s staff accuses Shaath of “incitement against Israel” and he is unable to travel freely. Apparently this has been the situation for the past year.
According to the newspaper’s correspondent for Arab Affairs, Shaath does not know why this privilege has been taken away from him or why Netanyahu seeks to take revenge against him personally. As a VIP, Shaath could move freely within the occupied West Bank and between Israel and Jordan; he is now banned from entering Israel and has to wait for hours at the border crossing, on the Allenby Bridge before being able to enter Jordan.
In his interview with Yedioth Ahronoth, Shaath said that last year he was able to visit his friend Amnon Lipkin-Shahak, the late Israeli military leader and politician, just before his death. Two days later, Shaath realised that his VIP card was revoked; he noted that the decision to withdraw his privileges came from Prime Minister Netanyahu’s office, not from Israel’s intelligence or security agencies. He also learnt that Netanyahu made the decision to deprive him of his privileges as a “punishment” for alleged “incitement against Israel”.
Although he said that he had never attacked Netanyahu personally, he did admit to criticising his government’s policies, which is his right as a Palestinian citizen who seeks the establishment of an independent Palestinian state. He also said that all those who know him know that he has never called for violence and has always denounced terrorism.