Israel revokes Palestinian general’s VIP pass

Adnan al-Damiri compared Netanyahu and Islamic State leader, said Israel more racist than IS

Lazar Berman is The Times of Israel's diplomatic reporter

A Palestinian man walks toward the Hawara checkpoint, near the West Bank city of Nablus (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90/File)
A Palestinian man walks toward the Hawara checkpoint, near the West Bank city of Nablus (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90/File)

In a rare move, Israel revoked on Tuesday the VIP pass of a senior Palestinian Authority official after he compared Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

General Adnan al-Damiri, spokesman for the Palestinian Authority’s security services, made the remarks during a press conference in the wake of last week’s terror attack in which a Palestinian driver killed two people waiting for a train.

He also said that “Israeli racism toward the Palestinian nation is more serious and dangerous than the Islamic State,” and that Israel is the “Jewish Islamic State,” the Haaretz daily reported.

The VIP pass allowed Damiri to move more quickly through the West Bank, and to enter Israel proper more easily.

Israel generally refrains from using the measure against Palestinian officials, but felt his statements bordered on incitement to violence. Moreover, Damiri had ignored repeated warnings about his statements against Israel and its leaders.

Speaking to Haaretz Tuesday, Damiri remained defiant. “Netanyahu is supporting the most extreme in Israel, and they are leading to escalation, incitement, and religious conflict. I spoke based on facts. It is responsible for the killing of nine Palestinian children [in the West Bank] since the beginning of the year, it destroys homes of Palestinians who weren’t tried, but doesn’t destroy the homes of the killers of the child Muhammad Abu Khdeir. Netanyahu’s decision proves that this is a weak government that cannot deal with statements in the media by a Palestinian bureaucrat whose job is to talk to the media.”

In June, after three Israeli teens were kidnapped, Damiri described Netanyahu’s comments, in which he held Abbas accountable for the act, as “mad.” In September, he accused Israel of “carrying out operations to kill and destroy houses,” after IDF soldiers killed the three teens’ kidnappers.

Israel revoked the VIP pass of two senior PA officials, Jibril Rajoub and Nabil Sha’ath, in 2012, for their incitement against Israel.

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