Posted on July 10, 2006 in Press Releases

Calls on Bush Administration to Step In, Enforce 1951 ‘Treaty of Friendship’

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Arab American Institute today slammed an Israeli decision to bar Arab Americans of Palestinian descent from entering Israel and the West Bank and called for the Bush Administration to immediately raise the issue at the highest levels with the Israeli government.

The new policy, apparently enacted recently, has already affected Arab Americans on trips for business and/or to visit relatives in Israel and the West Bank.

“This is crude racial profiling and represents the worst of Israel’s systematic discriminatory policies towards Arabs and Arab Americans,” said AAI President James Zogby. “We would not tolerate a country barring Americans entry because they are Jewish, Black, Asian or Latino and we certainly should not do so because they are of Arab descent.”

AAI also expressed grave concern over media reports that U.S. consular officials in Tel Aviv stating that the U.S. views the matter as a sovereign decision by another country.

In denying Arab Americans entry, Israel is in clear violation of the 1951 “Treaty of Friendship, Commerce and Navigation” it signed with the U.S. Article II, Sec. 2 specifically obligates both the U.S. and Israel to grant each other’s citizens the right “to travel freely and reside at places of their choice” within each other’s countries.

“If the Bush Administration refuses to uphold this treaty, it is not only Israel that is at fault but the Administration as well, as it will be saying to Arab Americans that, ‘We do not care about your rights’,” Zogby said. “If that is the case, we will explore legal remedies.”

Under the new Israeli policy, Arab American Senator John E. Sununu (R-NH), who is of Palestinian descent, would be barred from Israel and the West Bank.