Middle East Eye / February 15, 2023
New legislation means Palestinians can be deported to Gaza or West Bank, which legal experts say amounts to a war crime.
Israel has passed a law allowing the government to revoke citizenship or residency from those who have committed “acts of terror”, and deport them to the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, in legislation that will effectively apply to Palestinians only.
The final reading of the bill was passed in the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, by 94 votes to 10 on Wednesday, garnering widespread support from both the coalition government and opposition parties.
It was fast-tracked through parliament following an escalation of violence in recent months.
The law stipulates that those sentenced to prison on offences that breach “trust to the State of Israel” and who have received a form of funding from the Palestinian Authority (PA) can have their citizenship or residency revoked and be deported to the occupied West Bank or the besieged Gaza Strip.
It will apply to both Palestinian citizens of Israel and permanent residents of occupied East Jerusalem, the latter of whom widely refuse Israeli citizenship and are issued residency IDs by Israel’s interior ministry.
Legal experts told Middle East Eye last week that the policy amounts to a war crime and contravenes international law.
Removing Palestinian permanent residents of Jerusalem, who are protected persons under international humanitarian law according to the Fourth Geneva Convention, “amounts to a grave breach of that convention and thus to a war crime”, Saba Pipia, legal adviser at the Diakonia International Humanitarian Law Center in Jerusalem, told MEE.
In addition, compelling Palestinians in Jerusalem to show loyalty to Israel also falls foul of international humanitarian law.
“Article 45 of the Hague Regulations prohibits the occupying power from compelling inhabitants of the occupied territory to swear allegiance to it,” said Pipia. “Therefore, Palestinian residents of Jerusalem are not obliged to be loyal to the State of Israel, the occupying power.”
The law also breaches the fundamental rights of Palestinian citizens of Israel under international law.
It undermines the Convention on Statelessness and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, among others, legal experts told MEE.
Israel already has existing legislation allowing it to revoke citizenship or residency. This new bill, however, marks the first time it will seek to subsequently deport people to occupied territory.
The Israeli Supreme Court has previously acknowledged that the existing revocation law, which could render people stateless, contradicts international law, but ruled that such violations are not domestically unconstitutional.
“This joins a growing trend, seen in several recent rulings, whereby the Supreme Court disregards Israel’s obligations under international law in order to serve Israel’s political interests,” Hassan Ben Imran, a Nairobi-based board member at Law for Palestine, told MEE.
The new law has been criticized by rights groups as discriminatory, on the grounds that it creates separate legal tracks for citizenship based on racial identity.
The deportations will effectively only impact Palestinians, given the specific wording related to funding from the PA.
The PA has long claimed that payments to the families of prisoners are a form of welfare to those who have lost their breadwinner, and denies the funds seek to encourage violence.
Rayhan Uddin is a Middle East Eye journalist based in London
Israel extends law to strip ‘terror’ convicts of citizenship
The National / February 16, 2023
Law will also tackle payments from Palestinian Authority to families of prisoners or detainees.
The Israeli parliament expanded legislation on Wednesday that will introduce a policy of stripping citizenship over “terrorism” offences, aimed at those who receive funds from the Palestinian Authority.
The bill received 94 votes in favour and 10 against in the Knesset and paves the way for Israel to expel people from the country or annexed East Jerusalem.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hailed it on Twitter as “our answer to terrorism”, while a rights group said the move was “in violation of international law”.
A statement from parliament said politicians had approved “the revocation of citizenship or residency of a terrorist operative who receives compensation [from the Palestinian Authority] for committing an act of terrorism”.
The Palestinian Authority gives stipends to numerous families of prisoners, or detainees themselves, including those convicted of killing Israelis.
Israel says making payments to the families of attackers encourages further violence, but for some Palestinians, such payments are a key source of income.
Adalah, an organization that advocates Palestinians’ rights in Israel, said the law “not only creates an additional avenue for the revocation of the citizenship of residency of Palestinians … under the Israeli regime, but also facilitates their expulsion”.
“The law explicitly and exclusively targets Palestinians as part of Israel’s entrenchment of two separate legal systems based on Jewish supremacy,” the group charged in a statement.
The law may affect hundreds of East Jerusalem Palestinians and dozens of Israeli citizens, according to Dani Shenhar, head of the legal department at Israeli rights group HaMoked.
“The threshold is very low, so we’re very worried about it, especially the effect on East Jerusalem,” he told AFP when the bill was tabled last month.
The text approved by politicians lays out a judicial procedure for denying legal status following a request by the interior minister.
Most Palestinians living in East Jerusalem hold Israeli residency permits rather than citizenship.
The new legislation allows deportation “to the territories of the Palestinian Authority [in the occupied West Bank] or the Gaza Strip”.
Gaza, controlled by Hamas, has been under an Israeli-led blockade since 2007.
Israel has occupied the West Bank and East Jerusalem since the 1967 war.
Ahmad Tibi, an Arab opposition lawmaker, denounced the law as discriminatory.
“When an Arab commits a crime, they are a conditional citizen, whereas when a Jew commits even a more serious crime, revoking their citizenship is unheard of,” he said during Wednesday’s debate in parliament.
Politicians on Wednesday also approved in a preliminary vote a bill to allow the deportation of family members of those convicted of “terrorism”, in cases in which they are found to have supported the crime or known about it and failed to report it to the authorities.
Israel has previously stripped residency and citizenship, including that of French-Palestinian lawyer Salah Hamouri, who was deported in December.
The Jerusalem resident had been arrested and jailed on several occasions by Israel, which revoked his residency permit citing ties the outlawed Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.
In 2017, an Israeli court revoked an Arab citizen’s nationality over an attack against Israelis.
That was the first time an amendment passed in 2008 had been used to revoke citizenship.
Also in 2017, Israel announced it was stripping 20 people of citizenship after they allegedly joined ISIS.
Human Rights Watch said Israel has stripped 15,000 East Jerusalem Palestinians of their right to residency since 1967, warning the practice may constitute a “war crime”.
Soraya Ebrahimi – homepage editor
New Israel law allows stripping residency of Palestinians convicted of terrorism
Middle East Monitor / February 15, 2023
Israel passed a law on Wednesday that would allow authorities to strip people who have been jailed of citizenship or residency if they receive Palestinian funds for actions deemed as terrorism, as rising violence has stoked fears of escalation, Reuters reports.
Israel calls stipends for militants and their families a “pay for slay” policy that encourages violence. Palestinians hail the prisoners as heroes in a struggle against decades of Occupation and deserving of support.
Following months of deadly Israeli raids against Palestinians in the Occupied West Bank and fatal Palestinian street attacks on Israelis, the law passed by 94 votes to 10, by the hard-right coalition of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and many opposition lawmakers in a rare moment of political unity.
Under the new law, Palestinians from East Jerusalem who directly, or through their families, receive stipends from the Palestinian Authority after having been jailed in Israel for security offences can be deported to the Palestinian Territories.
It could also apply to some members of Israel’s Palestinian minority, many of whom identify as or with the Palestinians.
“Our enemies are not worthy of our citizenship, and those who come to hurt the state of Israel are not worthy of living here,” said far-right National Security Minister, Itamar Ben-Gvir.
Most Palestinians in East Jerusalem, which Israel captured in the 1967 Middle East war and annexed in a move not recognized internationally, have a “permanent resident” status, as opposed to the full Israeli citizenship of the Palestinian minority.
The Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs described the law as “the ugliest form of racism”.
Qadoura Fares, Chairman of the Palestinian Prisoners Association, said: “This is an unjust and racist law that aims to empty the land of its native residents and eject people from their homes.”
At the Knesset, opposition lawmakers who objected to the bill said it was discriminatory because it would not apply to Jewish Israelis convicted for attacks against Palestinians.
The new legislation comes as already high tension is building ahead of the holy Muslim month of Ramadan and Jewish holiday of Passover.
Israel Knesset passes law to deport Arab prisoners
Middle East Monitor / February 16, 2023
The Israeli Knesset yesterday passed a law to revoke the citizenship and residency status of Arab citizens of Israel who have been imprisoned by the occupation state and received salaries from the Palestinian Authority (PA).
The law, which gives the interior minister authority to revoke the citizenship of prisoners and deport them to the West Bank or Gaza, was passed by 94 votes for and 10 against.
Commenting on the passing of the law, the Legal Centre for Arab Minority Rights in Israel – Adalah said: “This law not only creates an additional avenue for the revocation of the citizenship or residency of Palestinians, which further undermines the precarious status of Palestinians under the Israeli regime, but also facilitates their expulsion, all in violation of international law.”
“The Israeli Supreme Court has previously dismissed claims of discrimination when it approved the existing track of citizenship revocation, which itself stood in breach of international law.”
The Knesset has now passed yet another measure that explicitly and exclusively targets Palestinians, in pursuit of its commitment to establish two separate legal systems based on Jewish supremacy.
In Israel, a Palestinian citizen who carries out any legitimate act of resistance against the Israeli occupation is considered a terrorist.