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Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki. Photo: Reuters/Hannibal Hanschke/Pool/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The Israeli domestic security service Shin Bet revoked Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki's VIP status when he returned to the West Bank from Jordan today, Axios has learned from Israeli officials.

Why it matters: According to the officials, the unusual act was retaliation for al-Maliki's push for an investigation against Israel in the International Criminal Court. The card allows easier movement and access inside the West Bank and at border crossings.

  • This is the first time Israel sanctioned a Palestinian official since the decision by an ICC prosecutor to open an investigation regarding the situation in the West Bank and Gaza.
  • The Israeli government has worked for years to avoid any ICC judgment against its actions in the West Bank or Gaza Strip.

Driving the news: Al-Maliki and his aides were held up by Shin Bet when they entered the West Bank from Jordan on Sunday.

  • Israeli officials say Al-Maliki’s VIP status, which was issued by the Israeli government, was revoked this time and could stay revoked if Al-Maliki continues his actions. 

Between the lines: Al-Maliki was returning after a visit to the Hague, during which he met with Fatou Bensouda, the International Criminal Court's chief prosecutor.

  • According to a statement by his office, al-Maliki asked the prosecutor to accelerate the investigation against Israel, which she announced several weeks ago.
  • Al-Maliki told the prosecutor the Palestinians support the work of the ICC and will cooperate with the court and its staff regarding the investigation.

What they are saying: A senior Israeli official told Axios Al-Maliki is spearheading the Palestinian actions in the ICC that are meant to harm the freedom of movement of Israeli officials and threaten their security.

  • “Such actions are in line with the current relationship between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. This is why we decided there is no reason Al-Maliki enjoys privileges when he passes through border crossings”, the official said.

The Palestinian foreign ministry said in a statement it is going to notify several of its partners around the world about the Israeli sanctions.

  • “This proves Israel is a vengeful country that is unable to solve its problems in a lawful manner and has to use threats and sanctions”, the statement said.

Behind the scenes: Israeli officials told Axios Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu approved the move.

  • It was one of a series of retaliatory steps Israel will take against the Palestinians for their actions to push for an investigation.
  • A week ago, the director of Shin Bet met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah and stressed the Palestinian moves in the ICC crossed the line and warned of retaliation.

The state of play: Two weeks ago the ICC prosecutor sent a formal letter to Israel and the Palestinians, announcing the investigation. Both parties have 30 days to respond and tell the prosecutor if they want to hold their own investigation before the ICC weighs in.

Go deeper

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Virginia attorney general fires Jan. 6 investigator from university post

McIntire Amphitheater at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia. Photo: Robert Knopes/UCG/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

The lead investigator for the Jan. 6 House select committee investigating the Capitol riot has been fired from his position as the University of Virginia's counsel by the state's new Republican attorney general, per the Washington Post.

Why it matters: Democrats say the removal of Tim Heaphy from his post after some three years while he's on leave from the university to investigate the insurrection is likely "retribution" for the House probe — an accusation strongly denied by the office of state Attorney General Jason Miyares (R).

5 hours ago - World

Taiwan's military scrambles jets after detecting 39 Chinese warplanes

J-20 stealth fighter jets in Zhuhai in the Guangdong Province of China last year. Photo: Chen Jimin/China News Service via Getty Images

Taiwan's defense force said 39 Chinese warplanes flew into its Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) on Sunday.

Why it matters: The largest Chinese air force incursion into the zone since October came a day after the U.S. and Japanese navies conducted a joint exercise in the Philippine Sea.

7 hours ago - Sports

Gonzaga University revokes NBA great John Stockton's tickets over mask stance

Former Utah Jazz player John Stockton during a 2017 press conference in Salt Lake City. Photo: Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images

Gonzaga University suspended the season tickets of notable alumni John Stockton after the NBA Hall of Famer failed to comply with the school's basketball games mask mandate, the Spokesman-Review first reported.

Driving the news: "Basically, it came down to, they were asking me to wear a mask to the games and being a public figure, someone a little bit more visible, I stuck out in the crowd a little bit," the former Utah Jazz point guard told the outlet in an interview Saturday.

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