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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
10JERUSALEM233 2010-02-09 17:46:00 CONFIDENTIAL Consulate Jerusalem
Cable title:  

ISRAELI TRAVEL BAN AGAINST PROMINENT EAST

Tags:   PGOV PREL KWBG KPAL IS 
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1. (C) On February 9, Palestinian Authority Prime Minister
Salam Fayyad contacted the Consul General to express strong
concern about the Israeli government's imposition of a
six-month overseas travel ban on Khalil Tufakji, an Arab
resident of East Jerusalem and prominent cartographer, as
reported in the Israeli daily Haaretz and other media on
February 8. Tufakji, a frequent international lecturer on
the physical and political geography of the Palestinian
territories, told DepPolChief on January 9 that several days
previously, he had received a letter from the Israeli
Ministry of the Interior informing him that for "reasons of
security" he would not be permitted to travel abroad for six
months.



2. (C) Tufakji expressed bafflement when asked about the
travel ban, noting that he had been a regular participant in
Israeli-Palestinian negotiations since 1992. In addition, he
claimed to have received written assurances from the Israeli
Interior Ministry in 2007 that no derogatory security
information was associated with his name. "I'm not a violent
man, I'm not even a religious man. I'm a peace man," he told
DepPolChief, "and this is widely known."



3. (C) Tufakji said he was in touch with the Legal Center
for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, an NGO also known as
Adalah, and had requested its assistance in preparing an
appeal. He said he was optimistic about the prospects for a
successful legal challenge, noting that the travel ban was
issued under British Mandate-era emergency legislation.



4. (C) Tufakji expressed skepticism about various
explanations offered by Palestinian colleagues and Post
contacts for the travel ban, ranging from his frequent travel
across North Africa and the Levant to his position as head of
mapping for the Arab Studies Institute at Orient House, which
along with other Palestinian institutions in East Jerusalem
has been closed since 2001. Note: The Roadmap calls on the
Israeli government to reopen these institutions. End Note.
"Look, I've been lecturing for years," he said, "in Libya,
Tunisia, Algeria, Jordan, Syria. I've been with Orient House
all this time. What's different now?" Noting the absence of
any official explanation for the travel ban, Tufakji said,
"Truthfully, I'm surprised. And if you read the papers, most
of Israel is surprised about this issue too."


RUBINSTEIN