Lieberman Bars Senior Palestinian Official From Israel Due to 'Subversive Activity'

Fatah official Mohammed al-Madani's contacts with Israelis were part of an attempt to start a political party, defense minister claims; decision reflects Israel's 'racist policy' and how far it is from seeking peace, Madani responds.

Newly-appointed Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman walks at the Knesset, Israel's parliament, ahead of his swearing-in ceremony in Jerusalem, Monday, May 30, 2016.
Ariel Schalit / AP

Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman has revoked a senior Fatah official's entry permit to Israel. Mohammed al-Madani, a member of Fatah’s Central Committee, is considered close to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. He also the chairman of the Committee for Interaction with Israeli Society.

Lieberman said he has barred Madani from Israel because the official “embarked on subversive activity within Israeli society that included an attempt to establish political parties.”

The defense minister said that “Madani tried to work with Israeli Bedouin and with Jews,” activity that he said was an unacceptable effort by a foreign agent to set up a party.

Madani has tried to strengthen ties with Israelis through direct contacts. Among others, he met with Reuven Abergil, a former leader of Israel’s Black Panther movement, in a bid to foster a dialogue with Mizrahi Jews.

Last year Abbas met with members of the Mizrahi Democratic Rainbow, which calls itself an apolitical social movement that seeks to instill the principles of democracy and social justice.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas signs the Paris Agreement on climate change at the UN on April 22, 2016 in New York City.
Spencer Platt / Getty Images / AFP

Al-Madani's office responded with the following statement: "The deceptions in the Israeli Defense Ministry announcement to justify the decision made against Mohammed al-Madini exposes without a doubt the racist policy that the new minister, Avigdor Lieberman has brought to the Israeli Defense Ministry."

"If the involvememnt of Israelis - Jews and Arabs - in political life makes Lieberman so angry it shows how far Israel is today from any attempt to reach a fair and comprehensive peace in the region," al-Madani's statement also said.

A senior Defense Ministry official who asked to remain anonymous said that Abbas is the main obstacle to Israeli security.

“We’re strong on the military front but weak on the political one,” the source said. “That’s our soft underbelly. Abu Mazen [Abbas] is exploiting this and carrying out political terror against Israel. Security coordination with the Palestinian Authority should continue, but this is not a gift Abu Mazen is giving us.”

In the Gaza Strip, the Defense Ministry source said, “A confrontation with Hamas is inevitable, but we’re in no rush. We’re not looking for adventures. The army must be ready and prepared for such a confrontation. If it takes place, the next round must be the last one for the Hamas government.”