In what appears to be a recent change of events, the passports of non-Israelis who enter the areas of Judea and Samaria are now being stamped with “Judea & Samaria Only” “visitors permit,” whereas until fairly recently those passports were stamped with “Palestinian Authority Only” stamps.
There has been a hysterical response to this by such anti-Israel activists as Ali Abunimah, the founder and editor of the “Electronic Intifada,” an online media outlet dedicated to attacking Israel, the “Zionist entity.”
It would not be such a big deal if it were only the virulently anti-Israel fringe who read the Electronic Intifada who complained about the change. But, incredibly, the issue has now been taken up by international media outlets such as the Associated Press who have been badgering the spokesperson for the U.S. State Department about the change.
During the press conference on Tuesday, December 4, the AP’s State Department correspondent Matt Lee repeatedly badgered Deputy State Department Spokesperson Mark C. Toner about the matter. Lee parroted Abunimah’s over-the-top characterization of the stamp, and demanded to know what the U.S. is going to do about Israel’s “creeping annexation” over what he insisted Toner acknowledge was “occupied territory.”
The reporter compared what he considered to be a lackluster response to the concern expressed by the U.S. when the Chinese government began issuing passports in which maps showed Chinese ownership over disputed maritime territory. Toner resisted the comparison, but ultimately relented and assured the AP reporter that he would “look into it,” and then “report back.”
The source of the concern, the Electronic Intifada, is so hostile to Israel that it describes the change in Israeli stamp policy in this way:
‘Judea and Samaria’ is the Jewish nationalist name Israel gives to the occupied West Bank to reinforce its bogus claims to the territory and to give them a veneer of historical and religious legitimacy.
The latest change is further proof, if it were needed, that Israel is, without announcing it, implementing a racist one-state solution where there is no such thing as a Palestinian state and even the ‘Palestinian Authority’ has been erased.
Of course, Judea and Samaria (Yehuda and Shomron in Hebrew) are the terms which have been used to refer to these areas throughout history. It has only been since the 1960’s that the term “West Bank” began to be used to refer to that area.
Here is the full exchange at the State Dept. briefing on Tuesday, December 4, 2012:
QUESTION: The Israeli Interior Ministry today announced that they’re also – they approved, or they are about to build 1,600 units. It’s the Ramat Shlomo settlement. It was actually launched during the Vice President’s visit to Jerusalem back in 2010 and you guys stopped it. Today, they – so do you have a comment on that?
Mark C. Toner, Deputy Department Spokesman: Well, you won’t be surprised if – I’d just refer you to our statement yesterday, which is that these kinds of actions are unproductive and don’t help get the parties back to the negotiating table, which is our ultimate goal.
QUESTION: Okay, but this seems to be like a daily event now. We might expect tomorrow there’s going to be another settlement and so on, and you will continue to refer to your statement of the day before yesterday?
MR. TONER: Well, our position – as we said, we made it very clear yesterday in our statement, but our position has not changed, and we continue to convey that to the Israeli Government.
QUESTION: Okay. So you have no intention of, let’s say, following suit with the – with your –
MR. TONER: Said, we see you –
QUESTION: – allies, Australia, and others to call the Israeli ambassador and tell him that in person?
MR. TONER: Well, Said, we’re in almost – well, we are in daily contact with the Israeli Government through our mission in Israel, and we’re going to convey what we’ve – privately as well as what we’ve conveyed publicly.
QUESTION: I have one last question on – if you indulge me – on the West Bank. The Israelis now are stamping visitors’ passports, American visitors and others, when they enter the West Bank as Judea and Samaria. Are you concerned about that? Did you express your concern to the Israelis?
About the Author: Lori Lowenthal Marcus is the US correspondent for The Jewish Press. She is a recovered lawyer who previously practiced First Amendment law and taught in Philadelphia-area graduate and law schools. You can reach her by email: Lori@JewishPressOnline.com
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