Middle East Eye / May 18, 2023
Bill advanced by far-right lawmakers passes preliminary vote in parliament.
Israeli lawmakers are pushing a new bill that would see flying the Palestinian flag punishable by up to one year in prison.
The bill is backed by members of the far-right Jewish Power party and states that three or more people waving the flag of a “hostile entity” will be considered a prohibited gathering and therefore punishable.
The Israeli Knesset has already voted its approval at a preliminary reading of the bill and it will need three additional votes to pass.
“As a democracy, Israel enables its citizens to protest decisions they don’t agree with the authorities on,” reads the explanation of the bill, according to Haaretz.
“But the proposal draws a red line between legitimate protest and one in which there are flags of those who don’t recognize the state of Israel, those who aren’t friendly toward it or don’t enable Israel to raise its flag in its territory.”
Since coming to power earlier this year, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government has introduced a raft of legislation aimed at appeasing the far-right in Israel.
Legislation aimed at restricting the power of the judiciary has already sparked off months of protests across the country.
On Thursday morning, Israeli settlers and politicians stormed Al-Aqsa Mosque ahead of thousands taking to the streets of Jerusalem for a divisive annual ultra-nationalist march.
Security officers cleared the Qibli prayer hall of Palestinian worshippers following the Fajr dawn prayers, according to Palestinian media.
Then at 7 am local time, the Moroccan Gate (Bab al-Magharib) to Al-Aqsa’s courtyards was opened and hundreds of settlers stormed into the holy site.
Several lawmakers were in their ranks, including Negev and Galilee Development Minister Yitzhak Wasserlauf, who belongs to the Jewish Power party.
Three MPs in Netanyahu’s Likud party, Dan Illouz, Amit Halevi, and Ariel Kallner, were also involved.
Though many Jews believe it is forbidden to stand upon it, and the status quo agreement states Jewish prayer must also be avoided, far-right Israelis, most often settlers, have increasingly flouted these rules with the backing of Israeli forces.
Israel advances bill imposing one-year imprisonment on people waving Palestinian flag
Middle East Monitor / May 18, 2023
The Knesset (Israel’s parliament) has advanced a bill at a preliminary reading that would ban flying the Palestinian flag during protests.
The proposal for the law, put forward by the far-right Otzma Yehudit party led by Almog Cohen, stipulates that three or more people waving the flag of a “hostile entity” will be considered a crime and, therefore, punishable by up to one year in prison.
According to Haaretz, the bill, which requires three additional votes to pass, will also enable Israel authorities to criminalize and disband protests held by Palestinians.
The description of the bill states that it “directs the public behaviour in Israel. As a democracy, Israel enables its citizens to protest decisions they don’t agree with the authorities on. But the proposal draws a red line between legitimate protest and one in which there are flags of those who don’t recognize the State of Israel, those who aren’t friendly toward it or don’t enable Israel to raise its flag in its territory.”
The bill comes after Israel’s Knesset (parliament) passed the preliminary reading of a controversial bill last year that would ban flying the Palestinian flag in state-funded institutions.
It also comes as Israeli settlers stage the flag march through Jerusalem’s Old City today to mark what they call the unification of Jerusalem, in reference to Israel’s occupation of the city in 1967.
Condemning the passing of the bill, the Legal Centre for Arab Minority Rights in Israel – Adalah, said police officers removing flags at protests and arresting those holding them is an “extreme breach of their authority and the law”.
Meanwhile, Hamas, the group that governs the Gaza Strip, slammed the bill as a religious war waged by the sitting fascist Israeli administration against Palestinians.
“Approving such a draft bill in a preliminary reading would give Israeli occupation forces the green light to further violate Palestinian people’s rights,” it said in a statement yesterday.
The Resistance movement further highlighted that such actions would fail to discourage Palestinians from waving their national flag, which represents their identity, unity and struggle.