Palestinian foreign minister Riad Malki's travel permit revoked by new far-right Israeli government

Tensions between Israel and Palestine continue to increase as the new hardline Israeli government brings in new punitive measures.
Tensions between Israel and Palestine continue to increase as the new hardline Israeli government brings in new punitive measures. Photo credit: Getty.

Palestine's foreign minister Riad Malki was returning from Lula de Silva's presidential inauguration in Brazil when he was told Israel had rescinded his travel permit. 

The travel permit allows him and other top Palestinian officials to easily travel in and out of the occupied West Bank, something ordinary Palestinians cannot do. 

On Friday, Israel's government approved the move to rescind travel permits as a response to Palestine encouraging the United Nation's (UN) highest judicial body, the International Court of Justice, to give its opinion on the Israeli occupation.

While the UN General Assembly voted by a wide margin to commission the report over 50 countries abstained.

Israel did not speak at the assembly but, in a written statement,  ambassador Gilad Erdan called the measure "outrageous", the UN "morally bankrupt and politicised", going on to say any decision reached by the court would be "completely illegitimate".

The decision highlights the tough line the government is already taking toward Palestinians just days into its tenure. 

This is all happening against a backdrop of rising violence in the occupied West Bank, with peace talks a distant memory.

Israel's Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, told a meeting of his cabinet on Sunday the measures were aimed at what he called "an extreme anti-Israel" step at the UN.

Palestinians have condemned the revoking of Malki's permit, saying Israel should instead be "punished for its violations against international law".

Israel's new government is the most hardline and far-right in its history and it is making its presence known. 

The new administration, which has been in for just over a week, has already made moves towards expelling the largest number of Palestinians from the West Bank since the occupation began. 

New and controversial National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir has also staged a provocative visit to a sacred mosque compound. The visit was condemned by Jordan, Egypt, Morocco, Bahrain, Sudan, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

More alarmingly, the new government has also announced plans to gut the judiciary which, despite already leaning hard right, is seen as restrictive to Israeli politicians who want more direct control of Palestinian and Israeli life.

The new government was formed when Netanyahu was able to pull together a disparate group of parties into a majority coalition. In the process he made deals with politicians once seen as radicals and as a result mainstreamed the far-right.

"This government's sole political platform is against Palestinians," Palestinian peace negotiator Diana Buttu said. "There is no longer a veneer."

Israel captured East Jerusalem in the 1967 Six-Day war, later annexing it, a move unrecognised by most of the international community. Israel considers the city its undivided, eternal capital. 

The Palestinians seek the city's eastern sector as the capital of their hoped-for state but a two-state solution has never looked less likely.

A third of East Jerusalem's population is Palestinians who have long faced neglect and discrimination at the hands of Israeli authorities.