'This is outrageous.' Tibi
Photo: Dudi Vaaknin
Photo: Dudi Vaaknin
'Congress important for peace process.' El-Sana
Photo: Dudi Vaaknin

MKs Tibi, El-Sana held up on way to Fatah congress

Arab parliamentarians travelling to Bethlehem after receiving official invitation from Abbas delayed by Border Guard officers for more than an hour. 'It was embarrassing,' El-Sana says, 'it's not like we were trying to smuggle bombs'

Knesset Members Ahmad Tibi and Talab El-Sana of the United Arab List-Ta'al party were held up for more than an hour Monday evening at a Border Guard checkpoint near the entrance to the West Bank city of Bethlehem.


The two were eventually permitted to enter the Palestinian Authority in a vehicle sent by President Mahmoud Abbas.


Tibi and El-Sana claimed that despite the fact that their trip to Bethlehem was authorized by IDF Central Command Chief Maj.-Gen. Gadi Shamni, the officers conditioned their entrance to the city on a security check of the vehicle upon their reentry to Israeli territory.


"We waited at the entrance for an hour and 10 minutes. After 30 minutes the Central Command chief authorized us to enter, but the Border Guard forces refused, despite the intervention of the Knesset Speaker (Reuven Rivlin)," Tibi said.


"This is outrageous; we are treating the delay and the attempt to revoke our immunity as MKs with the utmost severity," the Arab MK said.


El-Sana said "the incident was embarrassing. We, Israeli MKs, stood at the entrance surrounded by security personnel while dozens of vehicles belonging to consuls, ambassadors and other foreign delegates passed us by.


"This is a clear violation of our immunity; from the officers' conduct one would think we were trying to smuggle bombs," added the parliamentarian.


Tibi and El-Sana traveled to Bethlehem to attend Fatah's congress after receiving an official invitation from Abbas.


"This conference is very important to the peace process. Fatah has organized a very impressive congress with the participation dignitaries from around the world, and it is crucial that Israeli MKs also attend," said El-Sana.


Hadash Chairman Mohammad Barakeh is also taking part in the Congress.


The Border Guard said in response, "The officers acted in accordance with the policy of the Central Command chief and Jerusalem District Police Commander Major General Aharon Franco. Upon receiving the necessary permits, the officers allowed the MKs to be on their way."


Efrat Weiss contributed to the report


פרסום ראשון: 08.03.09, 23:00
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