6 May 2009
Fearing further repetition of Israel’s ongoing practice of arbitrarily denying entry to foreign nationals trying to enter the Palestinian territory occupied by Israel since 1967, the Campaign for the Right to Enter the oPt is issuing an open appeal to the Israeli government not to deny entry to His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI to the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Gaza Strip.
In light of the hundreds of cases of foreign-passport holders—teachers, doctors, businesspersons, students, husbands and wives, clergy, pilgrims and caretakers, just to name a few—who have been turned back at ports of entry under Israel’s control while trying to reach their place of work, their families or their churches, representatives of the Campaign remain concerned by Israel’s continued failure to provide a clear, transparent and lawful policy regarding who can enter the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt).
On the occasion of the visit of His Holiness, the Campaign repeats its demand that Israel stop the practice of arbitrarily denying entry to foreign-passport holders wishing to visit or reside in the oPt and reminds the public that nobody is immune. While Israel is unlikely to stamp “Denied Entry” on the Pope’s Vatican passport, as it did to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of Human Rights in the occupied Palestinian territory, Professor Richard Falk, a few days before last Christmas, the Campaign wishes to call His Holiness’attention to the fact that even he is not immune from being told by Israeli authorities to “return to where you came from,”as they did to Professor Falk.
The Campaign is actively calling on states, religious leaders, and all people of conscience worldwide to work for an end to Israel’s unlawful restrictive measures and to the serious harm they cause to the protected Palestinian population, their family life and their educational, religious and social institutions.
The Vatican, like other high Contracting Parties to the Geneva Conventions of 1949, has an obligation to scrutinize Israel’s exercise of authority as an occupying power and to oppose arbitrary denials of entry to the oPt. The Campaign calls on his Holiness to give his attention to these abusive practices, which have also threatened the continuity and integrity of Palestinian religious life. Failing to object to internationally unlawful acts and policies when confronted with them implies accepting them as lawful.
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