Israel has nullified Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki’s VIP permit to travel freely between Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian territories, upon his return to the West Bank after a meeting with International Criminal Court’s (ICC) Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, the Haaretz newspaper reported.
According to high-ranking Israeli officials, the move came in light of the minister’s actions to aid the ICC investigation into the war crimes allegedly committed by Israel in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, which was opened earlier this month.
Al-Maliki’s meeting with Bensouda took place on Thursday, according to the news outlet. The minister and his aides were reportedly detained at the Allenby Bridge crossing on the Israel-Jordan border and subjected to a security check.
It is the first time that Israel has sanctioned a top Palestinian official since the ICC launched the probe, according to the newspaper.
In early March, Bensouda said that the court would investigate crimes supposedly perpetrated by the Israel Defense Forces and other armed groups across Palestine since June 13, 2014. The announcement was met with praise by the Palestinian Authority and Hamas alike, while prompting outrage in Israel, with the country’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, decrying it as “undiluted antisemitism.”
The inquiry will also examine the actions of Palestine’s Hamas movement, which fired rockets into Israel during the 2014 Gaza war, Bensouda said.
When paying an official visit to Russia’s Moscow on March 17 and commenting on the matter, Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi called the ICC decision biased, saying that it jeopardizes the chances of settling the situation with Palestinians.