State bars ex-minister, peace activists from Ramallah
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State bars ex-minister, peace activists from Ramallah

Defense Ministry claims ‘security considerations,’ but sources say political motive behind nixing of meeting between Yossi Beilin and with PA liaison

Dov Lieber is The Times of Israel's Arab affairs correspondent.

Yossi Beilin at the Israel Conference on Democracy in Tel Aviv, February 17, 2015. (Amir Levy/Flash90)
Yossi Beilin at the Israel Conference on Democracy in Tel Aviv, February 17, 2015. (Amir Levy/Flash90)

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman recently prevented former Knesset member and government minister Yossi Beilin from traveling to Ramallah with a group of peace activists.

Beilin, who heads the Geneva Initiative, a peace coalition, and other members of the group applied for a Defense Ministry permit to enter the Palestinian city, but were denied, Channel 10 reported Monday.

They were planning to meet with Muhammad Al-Madani, the Palestinian Authority’s liaison to Israel who is also an aide to PA President Mahmoud Abbas. Reportedly, several days after Beilin submitted the request, Abbas in turn expressed a desire to meet with the group.

At the time, the Defense Ministry claimed that “security considerations” were behind its decision to turn down their request. However, a Defense Ministry official quoted by Channel 10 said that, in fact, the decision was spurred by suspicions that Al-Madani has been orchestrating “subversive” anti-Israel actions.

Fatah Central Committee Member Muhammad Al-Madani (Elhanan Miller/Times of Israel)
Fatah Central Committee Member Muhammad Al-Madani (Elhanan Miller/Times of Israel)

Those alleged actions, the details of which the Defense Ministry has refused to elaborate on, were cited in a decision by the ministry last month to revoke Al-Madani’s permit to enter Israel.

In a response to Liberman’s banning of the PA official last month, Al-Madani’s Fatah party said the liaison to Israel was accused of trying to form a political party to represent both Bedouins in southern Israel and Jewish Israelis.

“This makes it clear who’s a partner here and who isn’t,” Geneva Initiative director Gadi Baltiansky told the Israeli daily Haaretz.

“It’s the government that prevents itself, and its citizens, from speaking to the person responsible for ties with Israeli society.”

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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