JERUSALEM (Nov. 19)
Israel and the United States are at odds over the impending deportation from Israel of Mubarak Awad, a Jerusalem-born Palestinian who is an American citizen.
The Interior Ministry has refused to extend his tourist visa and ordered him to leave the country by Friday, when it expires. But the U.S. Embassy has intervened on his behalf.
Awad established the Palestinian Center for the Study of Non-Violent Resistance in East Jerusalem when he returned there in 1985 after a 16-year absence.
The strong American interest in the case was underlined by the attendance by the deputy U.S. consul general in East Jerusalem, Edwin Cubbison, at a press conference held by Awad Wednesday to protest his expulsion. The American diplomat reiterated his government’s concern. “We hope and believe that some way will be found to enable him (Awad) to remain here,” Cubbison said.
(In Washington Wednesday, State Department spokesman Charles Redman said that Awad is a “leading advocate of change through nonviolence” and has “served as a moderating influence in a potentially volatile area.”
(Redman stressed that the United States has made its position “clear” to the Israeli government. “It would be regrettable if the Israeli government does in fact expel him,” he said.)
U.S. INTERVENTION CHARGED
Israeli sources told the Jerusalem Post that Cubbison’s statement amounted to intervention in Israel’s internal affairs. Nevertheless, officials here are aware that Awad’s deportation Friday, coinciding with Premier Yitzhak Shamir’s meetings in Washington with President Reagan and Secretary of State George Shultz, could introduce a sour note in American-Israeli relations.
Awad, 44, is perhaps the most prominent Palestinian advocating non-violent resistance to Israel’s occupation of the territories it captured in the 1967 Six-Day War. He vowed that he would remain in Israel and, if forced out, would return as soon as possible.
Awad went to the United States in 1969 and obtained U.S. citizenship through marriage to an American. He was never a citizen of Israel. On his return to Israel in 1985, he said he intended to remain permanently.
His status as a resident alien was revoked last August on grounds that he had spent an extended period in the United States and acquired American citizenship.
When he visited the Interior Ministry last May, he was told his three-month tourist visa would not be extended and his right to remain in Jerusalem was no longer valid.
The center he directs advocates civil disobedience in line with the methods of the late Indian nationalist leader Mohandas Gandhi and the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the American civil rights activist.
Awad has called on Palestinians to refuse to work in Israel, pay taxes or fill out official forms, and to boycott Israeli products. He has urged Palestinians to lie down in front of bulldozers clearing land for Jewish settlements in the administered territories.
But the Foreign Ministry contends he has not limited himself to non-violent acts. In a letter to the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv Wednesday, the ministry charged that written material circulated by Awad called for sabotage, such as cutting telephone and power lines and severing water pipe lines.
Awad has won enthusiastic support from Israeli peace, activists. But his views have gained few adherents among Palestinians in the territories, who are predominantly influenced by the Palestine Liberation Organization.
Supporters of Awad note that thousands of American Jews who retain their U.S. passports live indefinitely in Israel, many of them in the administered territories. Large numbers of American immigrants hold dual U.S.-Israeli citizenship.