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'Palestinian Gandhi' Fights Israel Ouster

November 19, 1987|DAN FISHER | Times Staff Writer

JERUSALEM — Mubarak Awad, a Jerusalem-born Palestinian-American political activist ordered to leave the country by the week's end, told a packed news conference here Wednesday that the Israeli authorities "will have to take me by force to the plane."

In an unusually strong show of support, a group of concerned Israeli citizens, two left-wing Jewish members of the Israeli Parliament, and an official of the U.S. Consulate here all appeared at the 44-year-old psychologist's news conference. They urged the Israeli government to reverse its decision.

Awad, an American citizen, is the founder of the Palestinian Center for the Study of Nonviolence, which advocates civil disobedience to protest Israel's military occupation of the West Bank of the Jordan River and the Gaza Strip. He has been called the "Palestinian Gandhi" after the late Mohandas K. Gandhi, whose nonviolent resistance to British rule in India paved the way to that country's independence.

Awad said he received a written notice from Israel's Interior Ministry on Tuesday that he is "requested to leave the country no later than Nov. 20, 1987."

The order came as a surprise. It followed unusual public intervention on his behalf last month by U.S. Ambassador Thomas R. Pickering. Israeli Foreign Ministry sources said at the time that he would not be forced to leave, and Awad's attorney, Jonathan Kuttab, had been told repeatedly over the last three weeks that the case was under review by higher authority.

In fact, the Interior Ministry notice, signed by deputy director of population registry Yosef Tov and delivered Tuesday, was dated Oct. 30, indicating that a decision had been made even as Kuttab was being told that it was under review.

Awad was born and raised in Arab East Jerusalem, and like most of the city's other Palestinian residents, he received an Israeli identity card and residence permit after the eastern sector was captured by Israeli forces in the 1967 Six-Day War. Two years later he went to the United States to study. He married there and became an American citizen.

Always Intended to Return

"Never did he give up his (Israeli) ID card or his intention to return," Kuttab told the news conference.

Awad traveled back to Jerusalem periodically, then moved here with his family in January, 1985, when he founded the center for nonviolence. He organized groups to plant trees on confiscated Palestinian land, urged West Bank Arabs to boycott Israeli products and recently expressed support for Israeli high school youths who demanded that they not be assigned to duty in the occupied territories during their mandatory military service.

When he tried to exchange his tattered ID last May for a new one, however, Israeli officials confiscated the document. And in August they informed Awad that because he now has a U.S. passport, he is no longer entitled to a Jerusalem residence permit.

Awad is appealing that action; in the meantime he has remained in Jerusalem on a normal Israeli tourist visa. That visa runs out on Friday, and the Interior Ministry notice was to inform him of its denial of his extension request.

Edwin C. Cubbison, deputy U.S. consul general in Jerusalem, who sat beside Awad at Wednesday's press conference, said he did not know how many such cases exist but added that there are about 7,000 American citizens of Palestinian origin living in East Jerusalem and the West Bank.

Knesset (Parliament) member Mattityahu Peled, a former Israeli army general and founder of the left-wing Progressive List for Peace, charged that in Awad's case, "the duplicity and hypocrisy of the Israeli government has reached unprecedented heights."

"I came here only for one purpose--just to express my shame as an Israeli" over the government's action against Awad, added Knesset member Dedi Zucker, an official of the leftist Citizens Rights Movement.

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