Dutch urge lift on Palestinian travel ban

6th March 2009, Comments 0 comments

The Dutch hope to present a prestigious human rights award to Shawan Jabarin in person 13 March, and are urging Israel to lift a travel ban.

THE HAGUE—Dutch Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen has asked Israel to lift a travel ban on a Palestinian whose rights group is to receive an award in the Netherlands.

Verhagen told a group of journalists at Thurday's NATO summit in Brussels that he is continuing to lobby the Israeli government to overturn a travel ban imposed on Shawan Jabarin, the director of the Palestinian al-Haq human rights organisation based in Ramallah.

Verhagen spoke with Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni about the ban on Thursday in Brussels, said Bart Rijs, spokesman for the Dutch minister.

"The Netherlands has long been committed to seeing Mr Jabarin come to the Netherlands," said Rijs. "The minister already spoke with Ms Livni about it last spring."

"The Dutch embassy in Israel is trying to have the travel ban lifted and has redoubled its efforts since the prize was announced."

The Netherlands' prestigious human rights prize, the Geuzenpenning, is to be awarded to Al-Haq along with Israeli organisation B'Tselem in a ceremony on 13 March.

Israeli authorities have refused to allow Jabarin to leave the West Bank since March 2006, according to Human Rights Watch.

Israel claims that Jabarin is a member of a terrorist organisation, and has restricted his movements.

The Palestinian human rights activist said he briefly joined the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine — a small faction of the PLO — as a student years ago and has not been a member since then.

Jabarin has asked an Israeli court to lift the ban and a decision is expected on Monday, according to Rijs.

"We respect an Israeli judge's decision, but it is important that the defence has had access to all aspects of the court file," said Rijs.

The prestigious Geuzenpenning Prize recognises efforts made in the field of human rights and is named after a Dutch resistance group active during World War II. Because of its history, the Palestinians perceive the prize as an acknowledgement of their resistance to Israeli occupation.

Radio Netherlands/AFP/Expatica

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