The Arab American Institute slammed an Israeli decision to bar Arab Americans of Palestinian descent from entering the West Bank and Israeli lands, calling on President Bush’s government to intervene immediately.


The new policy has already affected Arab Americans on trips for business or to visit relatives in ancient Palestinian villages now located in what is considered . The Israeli restriction also bars visits to the West Bank, let alone the Gaza Strip. Although Arabs in general often have a difficult time getting through the occupied borders, no official policy had been in place.

AAI President James Zogby said, “This is crude racial profiling and represents the worst of ‘s systematic discriminatory policies towards Arabs and Arab Americans.”

Zogby continued, “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.”

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

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

Zogby went on to say, “If the Bush Administration refuses to uphold this treaty, it is not only that is at fault but the American administration as well, as it will be saying to Arab Americans, ‘We do not care about your rights.’”

The AAI position is clear. “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 the Palestinian West Bank and Israeli areas as well.