Israeli Ambassador to Ghana Ami Mehel angrily denying the existence of Palestine in a radio interview yesterday following Israel’s decision to bar a Ghana MP from entering the country this week.
Mehel flew into a rage after being questioned by a journalist as to why Ghanaian parliamentarian Ras Mubarak was prevented from entering the occupied territories via the Allenby Crossing, despite having been granted a visa. The use of the term “oPt”, an acronym for the occupied Palestinian territories, prompted Mehel to refuse to answer the question if the journalist used such terminology.
“Excuse me lady, excuse me! You said something that is unacceptable for me. If you want to talk to me, you will use the terminology that I use,” he demanded. “There is no OPT, there is no Palestine, there was never Palestine. It’s Israel, he wants to enter Israel!”
The ambassador denied that Mubarak had been granted a permit to enter the country and claimed that the MP was told to wait while Israeli authorities investigated the situation but that he left the crossing early of his own accord.
Mehl further claimed that Mubarak had lied about the incident because he is “a propaganda machinery of the Palestinian authorities”.
“He never asked for a visa … its b******t, its propaganda!” Mehl insisted, before being asked to control his language.
Mubarak, a vocal supporter of the Palestinian cause, was travelling to Ramallah to deliver a speech at the invitation of the Palestinian Authority (PA). Yesterday, he was forced to address the delegates at the 9th Jerusalem International Conference via teleconferencing. He said that despite his disappointment that he could not join the conference in person, his experience of being denied entry was “a tiny taste of the oppression of the Palestinian people”.
He also referenced current events taking place in the Gaza Strip, with Israeli forces violently quashing peaceful protests on the border.
“Any country which treats international laws and conventions with contempt, flouts them with increasing regularity and maintains a brutal military occupation has to fit into the rogue state category. Israel is not just a rogue state, it is a terrorist state. The politics of discrimination and apartheid should have no place to thrive in this 21st century,” he said.
Mubarak concluded by pledging that pressure from Israel would not prevent him from speaking up for Palestinians: “Ghana has a long-standing history of being on the side of the Palestinian people and we would continue to be on your side in this just cause.”
Mubarak is now one of a growing list of African parliamentarians and dignitaries that have been denied entry to Israel following their involvement in pro-Palestinian activism.
In April 2015, South Africa’s Minister of Higher Education, Blade Nzimande, was denied entry on route to Ramallah, where he was expected to facilitate research collaboration between the University of Johannesburg and Palestinian academics.
In December 2016, Associate General Secretary for the World Council of Churches (WCC), Dr Isabel Apawo Phiri from Malawi, was also banned; she was the sole African member of the delegation that was due to meet in Jerusalem, and the only one refused entry.