The 20 Members of the Palestinian Legislative Council were refused permission to pass through the border crossing at Erez Checkpoint by Israeli military forces yesterday morning. As a result, the meeting of the Palestinian Legislative Council has been cancelled.
At 12:00 hours (09:00 hours GMT) on Monday 10 June, the 20 Members from Gaza of the Palestinian Legislative Council went to Erez Checkpoint in order to cross the border to travel to Nablus for the Council Meeting to be held there. Israeli soldiers demanded that the Council Members be subjected to body and baggage searches before being permitted to enter. The Members refused, arguing that as representatives of the Legislative Council they should permitted to travel on official duties without hindrance or subject to humiliating searches.
After two hours of discussion, at 14:00 hours local time (11:00 hours GMT) the Israeli military forces refused them permission to pass the border without being subjected to these searches. The Council Members returned to the Gaza Strip and the Secretariat to the Legislative Council cancelled the session.
Palestinian Legislative Council Members have been refused VIP status, which would permit them to travel unhindered. Instead, applications must be made on every occasion the Council meets and Council Members continually face problems obtaining permission, seeking to cross borders and even when travelling. When permission is granted it is for short periods; requiring Council Members to travel, arriving in time for the session and leaving within hours of the Council session closing. Israeli military forces appear to implementing a policy of the Israeli Government which has the effect of obstructing the work of the Legislative Council and the official responsibilities of its members.
The Palestinian Legislative Council and the elections which preceded it, were established under the Taba Agreement signed between the Government of Israel and the Palestinian Authority in September 1995. The Government of Israel, through the IDF and other Israeli occupying forces, has consistently violated the provisions of the agreement. The obstruction of the Palestinian Legislative Council, the first-all Palestinian directly elected authority, is a direct breach of the agreements and undermines the democratic institutions in the autonomous areas of the Occupied Territories.
The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights calls for international intervention to secure the granting of free movement for Members of the Palestinian Legislative Council.