The three Hamas officials who were expelled from Bulgaria returned to the Gaza
Strip Saturday and condemned the Bulgarian authorities for “succumbing to
One of the officials, Salah Bardaweel, accused the
Bulgarians of violating the Hamas members’ parliamentary immunity. He noted that
he and his colleagues, Ismail Ashkar and Mushir al-Masri, were elected members
of the Palestinian Legislative Council.
Bardaweel said shortly after
arriving in the Gaza Strip through the Rafah border crossing with Egypt that the
expulsion “reflected the submission of the European Union to Israel and
continued denial of Palestinian rights.”
Bardaweel complained that the
decision to expel him and his colleagues was a humiliation not only to the
legislators, but to all Palestinians and Arabs. He demanded that the Bulgarian
government issue an apology for its “immoral” behavior toward the
He said the expulsion violated international laws and
diplomatic protocols. He pointed out that he and his colleagues enjoyed
parliamentary immunity and had entered Bulgaria after obtaining a
“We entered the country legally but were expelled in an illegal and
offensive manner,” the Hamas official said.
Bardaweel and other Hamas
figures in the Gaza Strip claimed over the weekend that the Palestinian
Authority foreign ministry also played a role in the expulsion of the
delegation. They said PA Foreign Minister Riad Malki phoned his Bulgarian
counterpart and told him the Hamas legislators did not represent the PA and had
no mandate to meet with Bulgarian officials and lawmakers.
Marzouk, a senior Hamas official, urged the Bulgarian government to apologize to
his movement for expelling the three legislators, denouncing the expulsion as a
“despicable act.” He also criticized the PA leadership for failing to condemn
“The expulsion of the legislators from Bulgaria is an
insult to our people,” he added. “These were representatives of the Palestinian
people who had entered Bulgaria with a visa.”
Marzouk, too, accused the
Bulgarian government of bowing to Israeli pressure.