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Israel not renewing VIP cards of PA officials
By KHALED ABU TOAMEH
26/12/2012
Palestinian official tells 'Post' move a response to Ramallah's successful bid to upgrade UN status to non-member state.
 
Israel is refusing to renew the VIP cards of several senior Palestinian Authority officials, a Palestinian official in Ramallah said Wednesday.

The Israeli-issued cards, which enable their holders freedom of movement in the West Bank and Israel, had been granted to dozens of top PA officials over the past two decades.

One of the PA officials affected by the new policy is Nabil Sha’ath, a member of the Fatah Central Committee and a former negotiator with Israel.

Sha’ath’s card was revoked after he visited the Gaza Strip to participate in Hamas’s “victory” celebrations in the aftermath of Operation Pillar of Defense.

Sha’ath said in response that he does not really care about the VIP card “because Palestinian unity is much more important.”

Palestinians have regularly criticized senior PA officials for accepting Israeli-issued VIP cards that grant them various privileges denied to most of their people. The cards also allowed their holders to pass through IDF checkpoints without delay or checking.

A PA official in Ramallah told The Jerusalem Post that the decision to revoke the VIP cards came in response to the UN vote in favor of upgrading the Palestinians’ status to non-member observer state.

However, the Post has learned that several PA officials had their cards confiscated long before the UN vote.

These officials lost their VIP status following fiery statements against Israel, including calls for launching a new intifada, the Post has learned.

The cards had been issued to more than 100 Palestinian officials, most of them members of the PLO Executive Committee and the Fatah Central Council.

Marouf Zaharn, PA Deputy Minister of Civilian Affairs, confirmed that the Israeli authorities were refusing to renew the VIP cards of several top officials.

He said that his ministry has been told by IDF officers that the decision whether to renew or not the VIP cards was in the hands of the Israeli government.

A response by the IDF on the issue was not available by press time.
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