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Israel bans Palestinian minister from attending women's conference in Jordan

Amal Hamad, the PA's minister of women's affairs, tells MEE that Israel does not respect the diplomatic immunity of Palestinian officials
Amal Hamad was sworn in as a Minister of Women's Affairs in the new Palestinian government last month (Reuters)

Israel has banned a Palestinian Authority minister from travelling to Jordan to attend a women’s conference organised by a European organisation.

Amal Hamad, minister of women's affairs in the Ramallah-based government, was scheduled to speak at the Euro Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor’s conference, which begins today. The Geneva-based nonprofit is launching a campaign to combat violence against women and girls in the Middle East.

'Not allowing me to travel is against the agreements between the PA and Israel and against all the international deals'

- Amal Hamad, Minister of Women's Affairs 

Hamad was sworn in last month in the new government formed by Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh and this was to be her first trip abroad as a minister.

But before Hamad could get to Amman, the Palestinian Civil Administration, which coordinates travel for PA officials with Israeli authorities in the West Bank, informed her those authorities had not issued her travel permit, she told Middle East Eye.

"Not allowing me to travel is against the agreements between the PA and Israel and against all the international deals that protect the right of travel and freedom of movement," she said.

Hamad told MEE that Israel is ignoring the diplomatic immunity of Palestinian officials and ministers. 

"We would keep participating in the international conferences to express our refusal to the Deal of the Century and to confirm the two-state solution on the 4 June [1967] borders, with East Jerusalem as the capital of the Palestinian state," Hamad said.

The minister instead addressed the conference via video on Thursday, telling the audience that her travel ban is "evidence of what the Palestinian women and the Palestinian people had to suffer from the occupation violence".

Israel's refusal to issue a permit to Hamad comes as a row between the PA and Israel is heating up over tax revenues.

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Israel collects around $175m each month in taxes on Palestinian imports and exports on behalf of the PA, but in February, authorities said they would begin deducting around $11.5m from that amount.

Israel says the figure is equal to what the PA pays monthly to Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli jails, the prisoners' families, and the families of those killed by Israel.

However, PA President Mahmoud Abbas has said that the PA "will not receive any money from Israel if it’s incomplete”.

Hamad is part of a newly formed government which includes many of Abbas's long-time allies and members of Fatah, though several smaller factions are also represented. Hamas was not included.

Other parties, including the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), refused to take part, calling for a unity government of all factions including Hamas.