PA Economy Minister walks out of BDS conference

After making insulting comments in response to a "provocative" question, participants ask Jawad al-Naji to leave.

June 8, 2013 20:48
1 minute read.
A Palestinian Authority policeman.

PA policeman 370. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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Palestinian Authority Economy Minister Jawad al-Naji was forced to walk out of The Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Conference on Saturday after participants demanded that he leave for insulting a man who asked a “provocative” question.

The man was later severely beaten by PA security officers accompanying the minister and taken to hospital.

The conference is being held at Bethlehem University with the goal of promoting boycott and divestment against Israel. The conference is also aimed at combating “normalization” with Israel.

Eyewitnesses reported that one of the participants, Nizar Banat, asked the minister why the PA and President Mahmoud Abbas were continuing to conduct security coordination with Israel while fighting “normalization” with Israelis.

In response, the angry minister called on the activist to to “stop barking.” The minister’s remark drew sharp criticism from the participants, who demanded that he leave the conference instantly.

When the moderator asked the minister to apologize, al- Naji walked out of the conference.

One of the participants said that PA security officers and Fatah “thugs” later beat Banat as he exited the conference.

Banat was taken to the hospital, where he was being treated for bruises, the participant said.

He said that at least seven men attacked him shortly after he left the conference hall.

“They tried to pull me out of a car,” he said. “When I resisted, they dragged me out and beat me.” He added that some of the attackers were aides to the minister.

The participant said that PA security officers also started searching the cellphones of some participants to make sure they had not filmed the confrontation between Banat and the minister.

“What happened today at the Bethlehem University conference is very serious,” she said. “The activist only asked the minister why he and President Abbas were campaigning against normalization with Israel while at the same time conducting security coordination with Israel.”

She insisted that the minister was “expelled” from the university and did not voluntarily walk out.

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