Israel has denied entry to a Spanish ruling party member of Palestinian descent, citing unspecified security concerns.
Fouad Ahmad Assadi of Spain’s Socialist Party had sought to attend a meeting of the Socialist International being held in Ramallah and Tel Aviv. He was barred from entering Israel at Ben-Gurion International Airport and deported on Sunday.
The Shin Bet told Haaretz the decision was because “his stay in Israel could endanger state security,” without elaborating.
The Socialist International is an organization representing social democratic parties from around the globe. Representatives of 25 member parties have arrived to participate in the session being held in Israel and the West Bank. Assadi was to have led the Spanish delegation.
The Lebanese-born Assadi, whose parents are Palestinian refugees, told Haaretz he has lived in Spain for nearly 40 years and has visited Israel many times in the past, without experiencing any particular problems. He believes the reason for being rejected this time may be because he has visited Syria where he has relatives and business ties.
“I believe in peace and I wanted to participate in this conference because I support a two-state solution,” Assadi said. “I wanted to represent our party but after what I saw in Israel how we can make peace, nobody there wants to, apparently.”
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The Shin Bet told Haaretz that Assadi was denied entry to Israel “in the past and this time as well for security reasons. Security agents questioned Mr. Assadi upon his arrival, and, as he was told, he was denied entry for fear his stay in the country could endanger state security.” The organization did not say why Assadi would pose a security threat to the country.
Representatives from Kosovo and Albania at the conference said they were also delayed at the airport for lengthy questioning but were eventually permitted to enter the country.
A Meretz delegation comprising MK Tamar Zandberg, former lawmakers Mossi Raz, Avshalom Vilan and Collette Avital, a representative of Meretz to the Socialist International, participated in the Ramallah event. The delegates met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh, and said both leaders reiterated their support for negotiations for a two-state solution, but accused Israel of refusing to advance the process. Abbas told them that Russia and Belgium had sought to mediate between them and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, but that Netanyahu had not agreed.
“We came to express our commitment to negotiations for a two-state solution and to convey the message to the Israeli, Palestinian and world public that there’s a partner,” Zandberg said of the event.
Raz, a Meretz candidate in September’s election, said: “After hearing the new Palestinian prime minister I say unequivocally, there’s a Palestinian partner for a peace agreement.”
Dario Teitelbaum, secretary of Meretz World Union, and Roberto Del La Rocca, Roi Kibri and Iyad Badir were also part of the delegation.