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  • Israeli officials say Al-Maliki’s VIP status, which was issued by the Israeli government, was revoked this time and could stay revoked if Al-Maliki continues his actions.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

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
2 hours ago - Science

China makes history with successful Mars landing

A model of the Tianwen-1 Mars rover is displayed during an exhibition at the National Museum of China in Beijing. Photo: Wang Zhao/AFP via Getty Images

A Chinese lander carrying a rover successfully touched down on Mars for the first time, state media reports.

Why it matters: This is the first time China has landed a spacecraft on another planet, and it launches the nation into an elite club of only a few space agencies to successfully make it to the Martian surface.

3 hours ago - World

UN: 10,000 Palestinians displaced in Gaza as Israel-Hamas fighting escalates

A Palestinian woman walks after she collects her belongings inside her damaged house following an Israeli air in the northern Gaza Strip. Photo: Ahmed Zakot/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

The United Nations warned Friday that ongoing fighting between Israel and Hamas "has the potential to unleash an uncontainable security and humanitarian crisis," in not only the occupied Palestinian territories and Israel, but "the region as a whole."

The big picture: More than 125 Palestinians, including 31 children have been killed in Gaza since fighting began Monday, per the Palestinian Ministry of Health. Eight people, including two children, have been killed in Israel, Reuters reported, citing Israeli authorities.

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