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Member of Palestinian delegation detained in Trinidad


At least one member of the Palestinian delegation who visited St Vincent and the Grenadines last week was detained in Trinidad and Tobago (T&T) over the weekend, while intransit to Panama.

According to The Trinidad Guardian, the Palestinian’s passport was seized, but he was allowed to leave Trinidad early Sunday morning, December 10.

It is not sure which one of the Palestinians was detained, but last week the group signed three agreements with the Government of St Vincent and the Grenadines.

Eight other members of the Palestinian delegation, whose passage through T&T had also been in doubt, were allowed to pass through Trinidad Sunday evening, December 10, after consultations with Prime Minister of SVG Dr Ralph Gonsalves.

The Trinidad Guardian reported yesterday that the detention of the Palestinians was highlighted by a member of the Muslim Roundtable in Trinidad Hafeez Khan.

Khan told The Guardian that he was contacted by Palestine’s Ambassador to Venezuela and St Vincent Linda Sobeh Ali, after which he notified National Security Minister of T&T Edmund Dillon of the situation.

Khan said he was kept in the loop on the matter by Ambassador Sobeh Ali, who along with her husband returned to Venezuela by private plane from SVG and was not with the delegation that went through T&T.

According to Khan, the delegation came from Germany and passed through Panama and Trinidad to get to SVG and although they had some “issues” when they passed through T&T then, they were allowed through.

“However, the delegation member who was seeking to pass through Trinidad last Saturday night to return to Panama was held. We’re told other international persons were also involved in speaking to him,” Khan told the Guardian.

The Guardian also reported that Prime Minister Gonsalves spoke to Trinidad’s Foreign Affairs Minister and he was advised that all was well for the members to use Piarco to connect to their flight to Panama on Sunday.

But on Sunday, Trinidad authorities are said to have written to Gonsalves after the first member arrived, advising him not to send any more Palestinians through T&T.

Khan told the Guardian that the Palestinian Ambassador was very upset, and the situation has prompted the need for Trinidad to take a position on Palestine’s status.

“What happened was unfortunate as the Palestine issue is known internationally— they’re the victims of occupation by Israel. From what occurred in the current matter, it seems T&T authorities are toeing the US line and reacting to the US Trump administration’s moving of the US Embassy to Jerusalem. But the United Nations hasn’t done this,” said Khan, adding, “The Muslim community here would therefore like to meet Foreign Affairs Minister to understand what problems there may be and what requirements are necessary if Palestinians have to pass through T&T,” Khan added.

Last week, the Government of SVG asked the United States to refrain from recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel.

The letter came a few hours before President Trump announced that the US formally recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and will begin the process of moving its embassy from Tel Aviv to the Jerusalem.