I have been invited for a little social event on yesterday evening. I accepted the invitation only because I hoped to meet there people with whom I could have a fruitful conversation on our Issue.
Betwen others there were the Head of delegation of the International Committee of the Red Cross in Israel and the Territories, Francois Hornish, and the Deputy Head, Paul Connelly. I told them that I had no response to my last letter to them asking for a meeting. They answered me that they will look for the reasons of that : they didn't got my letter.
They told me that they are well aware of the issue and well acquainted with it, I gave to them a presentation of our committee. I invited them for an eveninng in my home, so I could discuss and develop the whole issue with them. They have direct access to high ranking Israeli officials, and that can be helpful.
There was also an Israeli, a "senior adviser" of Amir Peretz at the Defnse ministry. Somebody told me : he is a brilliant, very promising young man. After I had presented our committee, he told me : we know the issue on all its sides. You ought not to have any illusioins. It will be the last but one prooblem that will be solved with the Palestionians. Nobody wants to handle it. It is a hot potato (in his words). Because it involves the Right of Return. I answered immediately : but we don't speak on 1948 ! And he concluded : hear well what I told you.
Therefore, I wholly agree with Yaacov's propositionn. We must put them under very high pressure, much higher than now.
Yes, we have to get access to the European parliament. And seek ties wirh members of the US Congress. It has to be put on the inner US agenda..
Dear members of ICRR,
Report on meetings at the Greek and German Embassies on February 1, 2007:
Yesterday, the 1st of February, Prof. Rachel Giora and Prof. Jacob Katriel met with the Ambassador of Greece, Mr. Nicholas Zafiropoulos, and with the Head of the Legal and Consular Department in the German Embassy, Ms. Anke Schlimm, accompanied by her assistant, Ms. Nina Sachse. The first meeting lasted for over 40 minutes, and the second for about an hour. Both meetings went well.
Our interlocutors were clearly fully aware of the issue we presented and very concerned about its impact on their own citizens and within the broader humanitarian and political context. We believe we managed to get across a clear message both about our group's aims and the kind of stance we hope they will take.
We followed Yosefa Sartiel and Aharon Eviatar's model in that Jacob prepared a dossier consisting of documents describing us and our
activities, and other relevant items. We presented both the Ambassador of Greece and the German Consul with these dossiers.
The Greek ambassador was very cordial. In all, he was quite knowledgeable about the topic and was happy to learn that Israeli citizens are genuinely involved in an attempt to help change the current 'policy'. He informed us that there is a significant number of Greek citizens with family and business connections in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, and that the Embassy had already helped some of them, but we all agreed that working on solving problems on an individual basis is taking the wrong direction. Indeed, he assured us that the various members of the EU have made securing a 3-month tourist visa for foreign passport holders a central issue in the document they are now drafting, which will soon be handed to the Israeli officials.
The German consul was quite knowledgeable too. In the beginning, it was hard to tell whether she realized who we are and what our agenda is. However, after a while, and especially after Jacob elaborated on the documents we have presented her with, and also after reassuring her that no one is financing us, she started to feel more comfortable. Given that Germany is now the president of the EU so that the Embassy is in charge of coordinating the EU diplomatic activities, Ms. Schlimm was careful to point out the need for forming a concensus among the EU representatives. Eventually she too appeared to be impressed by the fact that Israelis are concerned about this isssue and are urging the EU missions to act on this matter.
Towards the end of our meetings in both embassies, we pointed out some broader cultural and historical issues that provide further depth to the relations between Israelis and Greeks or Germans. The Greek Ambassador appreciated our comments about the millennia of contact bewteen the Greek and Jewish cultures and also about our own contacts with Greek academics. We presented the German consul with an autobiographical book by Prof. Sumaya Farhat-Naser from Birzeit, that was originally written in German, and JK pointed out his familiarity with Dr. Angela Merkel's scientific publications (on chemical kinetics).
Both the Greek Ambassador and the German Consul encouraged us to maintain an open channel of communication with them so that we can update them on the developments that we are aware of. They will, we believe, be as cooperative with our group as the formalities of their positions allow.
Dana Ron, Tel Aviv University, Engineering Department:
In response to the fax I sent on Jan. 16th to the embassy
of Norway, I got a phone message yesterday (Feb. 1st). The person
who left the message was (I believe - I tried to match what
I heard with the information on their webpage) the second
secretary, Pal Klouman Bekken. He thanked ICRR for the fax
and said that they are already acquainted with the issue. In
particular Norway was part of the EU demarche submitted to
Israel in the fall, and they are following that up. The bottom
line is that since they believe they are updated about the
current situation, they see no need to set a meeting.
I plan to send him a short thanks/acknowledgment for him message.
Israeli Committee for Right of Residency
February 3rd, 2007
Mr. Pal Klouman Bekken
Royal Norwegian Embassy
Dear Mr. Bekken,
We would like to thank you for your phone message from Thursday, February 2nd in response to our fax from January 16th.
As Israeli citizens who are very concerned with the residency rights of Palestinians with foreign passports in the Occupied Territories, we greatly appreciate the involvement of your embassy concerning this issue. Indeed we hope your involvement will improve the current situation.
If at any time in the future you will believe that meeting with
representative from our committee may be helpful, please let us know.
Dana Ron (On behalf of the Committee)
Address: 6 Aharonovich street, Tel Aviv 63566
Tel.&Fax: 03 6299537
Further reading on Dana Ron:
REPORT ON THE MEETING WITH THE SWISS AMBASSADOR - Yehuda K.
Claude R. from Jerusalem had been planned to take part into the meeting. Unfortunately, he came too late to the meeting point we have decided. And I had to go alone into the building of the Embassy. The Amnassador's secretary tried, unsuccessfully, to call Claude on his mobile. I had to meet the Ambassador alone .
There were three people : Francois Chapuis, the Ambassador ; Andre Motyil, Deputy-Head of Mission ; J ean-Paul Baumeyer, the Embassy Counselllor, The meeting lasted one hour.
The Ambassador opened the meeting saying that there were very pleased to see that Israeli citizens have taken to theit heart the issue at stake, so that the embassies are not alone in this fight. Later on, during the meeting, he repeated the same words. Then he gave a general description on theit deeds on the matter. They began their interventions with a Swiss spouse residing in Bethleem, and went further in the last weeks with the case of Anita Grossmann from Ramallah.
They had meetings with the general directors of the Defence and Interior Ministries, they had a big questions to ask us, and they returned to it several tilmes again : on wich door to knock, whom they should address to with some chance of success ? My pooor answer was to try to have a meeting with Sneh. Bauùeyer then answered that when he was here in the seventies as a delegate of the Unternational Red Crooss he had ties with Sneh who was the head of the "civilian" adminiustrration. The contacts were not so bad. Then;, I proposed (with reluctance) to apprach T. Livni in her ministerial capacity.
Chapuis largely described their collaboration with the EU ambassadors, and told that Germany, Romania, and Bulgaria, have a big interest in the issue because of their large Palestinian diasporas. They were closely in touch with the Finnish Ambassador,, and now with the German one (the countries having EU pressidencies .
Baumeyer gave his own point, an optimistic one, as follows : The new policy of re-entry and entry denials is not a fruit of a bureaucratic "balagan" (as he said), but of a concerted decision at the top (repeting what i told in my own introduction). It means that it was decided at the securitu governmental cabinet. Therefore, according to him, it is a card in the hands of the Israeli government in its negociations with the Palestinian side. Therefore, "in six months from now, they will
triumphantly declare : see whe are very humanitaruan people, we have abrogated this momentaneous polict".
We ended the meeting with the promise that we would further mamtain the contact, and keep in touch for the solving of the problem.
Meeting with S. Andre de Felipe, Ist Secretary of the Italian Embassy who is also Consul and Political Officer, 29.1.07
Location: the Italian Embassy, 25 Hamered st., Tel Aviv
Present: S. Andre de Felipe
For the ICRR: Dr. Yosefa Sartiel, Prof. Aharon Eviatar
We introduced ourselves as human rights activists and asked what the Secretary knew about the subject of our meeting.
We had been told over the telephone that this gentleman was cognizant with the problem of denial of entry/re-entry and in charge of it on the part of the Embassy. He was indeed knowledgeable, referred to the meeting with Deputy Defence Minister Efraim Sneh after a letter had been sent to the Min. of Defence by the European ambassadors and to that of the European Troika with Gen. Mishlav.
We presented our organization and gave him a dossier which included papers from the Palestinian side (instructions as to how to approach the
authorities when trying to enter, documents on factual issues) as well as the report from the Italian parliament (reply to a question), the "Mishlav document" in its entirety, Jacob Katriel's presentation from Nature and Kibush magazine and Dorothy's latest paper on the "Catch 22" state on the ground. This last interested him immensely, as being an update on the situation. Whereas the embassies and foreign ministries of the EU
countries had agreed to give the "new regulations" a certain period of time to take effect, we pointed out that these had been published before the end of December and that nothing had changed. We also pointed out the irrelevance of the security argument to prevention of entry/re-entry and that it is unconscionable that the army and security services are
responsible for allowing/disallowing access in humanitarian, medical and professional cases.
He asked what we would like him to do, and we made the point that Italy is important to Israel as a democratic country bordering on the
Mediterranean, as we are. We mentioned that among those refused entry are certainly some Italian citizens who are afraid to allow their names to be used for fear of deportation. We asked him to emphasise and enlarge upon the points we had made to his ambassador. He repeated that any action would be taken in concert with the other EU embassies and thanked us for the update.