Cablegate: Demarche Request: Goi Denial/Delay of Entry To


DE RUEHTV #2486/01 2271128
P 151128Z AUG 07




E.O. 12958: N/A


1. (SBU) Summary: In response to recent spate of incidents in
which American citizens of Palestinian or other Arab origin
encountered problems attempting to enter Israel, post in two
separate meetings with MFA said any such discriminatory
treatment could prompt us to revise our Travel Warning. Such
denials of entry appear to be relatively small in number, but
ongoing. MFA officials said they are in constant dialogue
with airport immigration officials on this matter. They
pledged to look into the specifics of four cases we raised
with them, and report back to us. End Summary.

2. (SBU) Post is pursuing with GOI on several tracks the
specific cases and larger issue highlighted in reftel,
regarding problems encountered upon entry into Israel by
American citizens of Palestinian and other Arab descent. We
have asked that all AmCits be treated equally and not
discriminated against due to place of birth or ethnic
background. We have informed the GOI that a continuation of
such discriminatory actions will force us to revise our
Travel Warning to reflect this.

3. (SBU) During an August 7 meeting, the Ambassador raised
the treatment of American citizens at Ben Gurion Airport with
MFA Director General Aharon Abramovitch and Deputy Director
for North America Yoram Ben Zeev. The Ambassador said there
had been several recent cases of Amcits detained at Ben
Gurion. Pressed by Ben Zeev on specific numbers, the
Ambassador said we did not have a good fix on the numbers of
such cases nor what percentage of Amcits headed for the West
Bank that these cases represented, but they were getting a
lot of attention in Washington. The Ambassador cautioned
that we might need to revise our Travel Warning or otherwise
complain publicly if Israel did not address the problem.

4. (SBU) Abramovitch said he was well aware of these
concerns, which did not involve only American citizens but
many other nationalities. The MFA has a constant dialogue
with the Airport Authority on these issues. There were many
security measures in place at Ben Gurion to prevent
terrorism, but Abramovitch admitted that Israel needed a
better system that did not cause so many complaints. He
added that the terrorist threat to airport security was a
global phenomenon that we all face. The Ambassador
reiterated that there was real concern in Washington over the
apparent discriminatory treatment accorded to
Palestinian-born American citizens in particular, as well as
other Americans planning to visit or reside in the West Bank.
Abramovitch said the MFA was taking the problem seriously
and reiterated that they were in constant dialogue with the
Airport Authority.

5. (SBU) On August 9 Consul General delivered a similar
message to MFA Consular Affairs director Yigal Tzarfati, and
the chief of MFA Consular liaison, Revital Danker-Maly.
Consul General presented to Tzarfati and Danker-Maly the
particulars of the two cases cited in reftel -- Mahmoud Amin
Dolah and Rami Ezzat Zein. CG brought up two other cases that
came to our attention at the same time -- Imad Abu Ziad and
Sadat Hasan. Both were denied entry at Ben Gurion, sent out
of the country and told to apply for entry at a land crossing
from Jordan. Hasan was recovering from surgery and in a
wheelchair while in detention at the airport. Tzarfati and
Danker-Maly were noncommittal on the specifics of these four
cases, but promised to pursue with the Airport Authority the
precise reasons for the difficulties in each instance, and
report back to us with their findings.

6. (SBU) To gain some perspective on the extent of the
denial of entry problem for Palestinian and other Arab
Americans we checked with Ministry of Interior sources at the
airport on the overall numbers of such cases. They told us
roughly 1,000 American citizens a week arrive at Ben Gurion,
mostly on the twice-daily Continental Airlines flights from
Newark, and of that total about 30 percent are of Palestinian
or some other Arab origin. They average one denial of entry
per flight -- or, around 15 a week out of a total of 300
arrivals. Our MOI sources said the most common reasons for
entry difficulties among this population relate to whether
the individuals possess a Palestinian identity document
and/or have overstayed on prior visits.

7. (SBU) It is safe to say the GOI is aware of our concerns
on this issue. While we concede to them the sovereign right
of any country to control who enters its territory, we have
made it clear there will be consequences for arbitrary and
capricious denials of entry, based solely on ethnic origin.
We believe a free flow of legitimate travel to the West Bank
is beneficial to the GOI and advances this mission's
strategic objective of promoting peaceful co-existence

between Israel and its neighbors. We will continue to press
on this issue.


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