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Israeli official denies army stopped, turned back PA premier near Jenin

Shtayyeh claims soldiers forced him to take an alternate route to cabinet meeting; complaint sparks sarcastic responses by Palestinians on social media

Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh during a press conference at the Foreign Press Association in the West Bank city of Ramallah, June 9, 2020. (Abbas Momani/Pool Photo via AP)
Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh during a press conference at the Foreign Press Association in the West Bank city of Ramallah, June 9, 2020. (Abbas Momani/Pool Photo via AP)

A senior Israeli army official denied Palestinian Authority claims that Israeli soldiers forced PA premier Mohammad Shtayyeh to turn his car around near Jenin on his way to a cabinet meeting on Monday.

“If Shtayyeh is late, he should search for culprits elsewhere without spreading slander and lies against the Israel Defense Forces,” said Maj. Gen. Ghassan Alian, who commands Israel’s military liaison unit to the Palestinians, widely known by its acronym, COGAT.

“This is a made-up lie with no basis in truth,” Alian wrote in a post on COGAT’s official Facebook page.

The Palestinian Authority cabinet regularly holds its meetings in Ramallah on Mondays. In recent weeks, the ministers have been assembling in cities across the West Bank as a sign of national unity.

A spokesperson for Shtayyeh claimed that soldiers had forced the premier to take an alternate route on his way to Jenin, where the cabinet was scheduled to meet.

“Israeli forces hindered Prime Minister [Shtayyeh’s] arrival in Jenin this morning,” spokesperson Ibrahim Melhem said, according to the official Palestinian WAFA news agency.

ادعى المتحدث باسم الحكومة الفلسطينية هذا الصباح أن قوات تابعة لجيش الدفاع أوقفت #رئيس_الوزراء الفلسطيني محمد اشتية في…

Posted by ‎المنسق‎ on Monday, October 11, 2021

The news sparked sarcastic responses by Palestinians on social media. In comments on Melhem’s Facebook page, many charged that the officials were out of touch for reporting the delay. Israeli checkpoints are a fact of daily life for ordinary Palestinians, but many senior PA officials have special passes that ease their dealings with them.

“And what about me, when I’m stuck at the Container checkpoint and it’s crazy hot out and there’s 300 cars in front of me? Let him try that for five minutes,” wrote one Palestinian social media user.

“Ibrahim, if you read the comments, you’d see the gulf that separates you from the rest of the people,” wrote another.

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