Israel to Oust Arab Activist; Security Cited
Defying strong U.S. opposition, Israeli authorities Friday served a Jerusalem-born Palestinian-American political activist with a deportation order because of activities deemed harmful “to the security of the state and to public order.”
Police arrested Mubarak Awad, founder of the Palestinian Center for the Study of Nonviolence, in a midnight raid at his home Thursday after Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir, in his additional capacity as acting interior minister, signed the deportation order.
The order charges that Awad, 44, has been in Israel illegally since last Nov. 22, when his tourist visa expired.
In fact, the move follows a government campaign against the activist dating back at least to the spring of 1987, when authorities stripped him of the Jerusalem residence permit he had held since 1967, shortly after Israel captured the city’s eastern sector and the West Bank from Jordan.
Awad formed his Jerusalem-based center in early 1985, advocating civil disobedience and other forms of nonviolent opposition to Israel’s military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
In a lengthy defense of the government action Friday, Shamir’s media adviser, Avi Pazner, charged that Awad had been “particularly active in the last few months” and that he “is one of the main contributors to the violent disturbances” that have rocked the occupied territories for five months.
More than 170 Palestinians and two Israelis have died in anti-Israeli unrest that began Dec. 9.
Pazner asserted that Awad, a U.S.-trained psychologist, had been “involved in the preparation of the bulletins” regularly circulated by the self-styled Unified National Leadership for the Uprising in the Occupied Territories. Asked if Awad was suspected of being a member of the clandestine body, Pazner replied: “We don’t know who the members of the underground leadership are. I am just telling you that (Awad) was involved” in preparing its leaflets.
Some of His Ideas Picked Up
The underground leaflets have picked up a number of ideas advocated by Awad, including a Palestinian boycott of Israeli products, refusal to pay taxes and display of the outlawed Palestine Liberation Organization flag. However, Palestinian and diplomatic sources say they are skeptical over claims he actually authored the leaflets.
Awad is expected to appeal the deportation order to Israel’s Supreme Court, although Pazner opined that “he stands very little chance” of overturning the decree.
The Interior Ministry first ordered Awad out of the country last November, but it stayed the action after concerned Israeli citizens, some members of the Knesset, or Parliament, and the American government interceded on his behalf.
In Washington, State Department spokesman Charles Redman said Friday that the Reagan Administration has “protested the deportation order to senior levels of the government of Israel.”
“Mubarak Awad should not be forced to leave without due process,” he added. “If the government of Israel believes that Mr. Awad has engaged in illegal activities, he should be afforded the full and public judicial process to defend himself.”
Washington has called Awad “a moderating influence in a potentially volatile area,” and Redman said in a statement last November that it would be “regrettable if the Israeli government does in fact expel (Awad). We believe that the principles of peaceful change and nonviolence in the occupied territories deserve strong support and encouragement.”
A spokeswoman for the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv said Friday that consular officials in Jerusalem had already visited Awad.
Ambassador Thomas R. Pickering reportedly raised the case in meetings with top Israeli government officials on Friday as well.
Studied in Ohio
Awad left Jerusalem in 1969 to study at Bluffton College, a Mennonite institution in Bluffton, Ohio. He remained in the United States after graduation, married, and became a U.S. citizen. He was active in the anti-war and civil rights movements in America in the 1960s and 1970s and has said it was during this period that he was inspired by the protest activities of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Mohandas K. (Mahatma) Gandhi.
He returned to Jerusalem in 1983 to start a counseling program for parents, teachers and students on the West Bank, and he opened his Center for the Study of Nonviolence two years later.
According to the Interior Ministry, a Palestinian who obtains citizenship abroad, or who stays overseas for more than seven years without returning to renew his residency permit, can have that permit withdrawn.
Awad’s supporters contend the rule is discriminatory, since a Jew, even if born abroad, can always claim residency here under the country’s law of return, while Palestinians born in East Jerusalem or the occupied territories are treated as visitors rather than citizens.