Jerusalem Politicians Face Expulsion

Israel Creating Loyalty Test, Warn Lawyers

Israeli human-rights groups and Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority, have condemned a decision by Israel to expel four Palestinian politicians from East Jerusalem by the end of this week.

The Israeli government revoked their residency rights in Jerusalem a few weeks ago, after claiming they were “in breach of trust” for belonging to a “foreign parliament”, a reference to the Palestinian Legislative Council.

All four men belong to Hamas and were arrested a few months after taking part in the Palestinian national elections in January 2006. They remained in jail until recently as “bargaining chips” for the release of an Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit, who is being held captive by Hamas.

Observers say Israel’s move reflects its anger at Hamas’s growing hold on the political sympathies of Jerusalem’s 260,000 Palestinians and is designed to further entrench a physical separation Israel has been imposing on East Jerusalem and the adjacent West Bank.  

Israel has not said where the three MPs and a former cabinet minister will be expelled to. The loss of residency effectively leaves the politicians stateless, in breach of international law, according to human-rights lawyers.  

Hassan Jabareen, the director of the Adalah legal centre for the Arab minority in Israel, said a “very dangerous precedent” was being set. “It is the first time Palestinians in East Jerusalem have had their residency revoked for being ‘disloyal’ and this could be used to expel many other residents whose politics Israel does not like.

“This is a draconian measure characteristic of dark and totalitarian regimes,” he said.  

The January 2006 vote for the Palestinian Legislative Council, in which Hamas won a majority of seats against its Fatah rivals, was the first time the Islamic party had participated in a national election.  

Jerusalem politicians were allowed to stand only after the international community insisted that Israel honour the terms of the Oslo accords.  

Unlike the occupied Palestinian territories of the West Bank and Gaza, East Jerusalem was annexed to Israel following the 1967 war and its Palestinian inhabitants were given the status of “permanent residents”. Israel has violated international law by building large settlements throughout East Jerusalem that are now home to 200,000 Jews.  

After the 2006 vote, the government of Ehud Olmert responded to Hamas’s success in East Jerusalem by initiating procedures to revoke the residency of three MPs – Mohammed Abu Tir, Ahmed Attoun and Mohammed Totah – and Khaled Abu Arafeh, who Hamas appointed as the PA’s minister for Jerusalem affairs.  

Before the revocations could take effect, however, Israel arrested the men, as well as dozens of other Hamas legislators, in retaliation for Sgt Shalit’s capture four years ago.  

Since their release, all four politicians have had their Israeli identity cards confiscated and been told they must leave the city within a month.  

Mr Abu Tir, 60, was supposed to leave on June 19, but has so far evaded expulsion. “I will not willingly leave the place my family has lived for 500 years,” he said last week.  

The deadline for the other three expires on Saturday.  

 Unusually, the plight of the Hamas politicians has won the support of Mr Abbas, who also heads Fatah and has been seeking to overturn Hamas’s rule in Gaza.  

Calling the expulsions one of “the biggest obstacles yet on the path to peace”, Mr Abbas has vowed to put pressure on the US to reverse Israel’s decision.  

During a meeting with three of the men last week, he said: “We cannot stand idly by while people are expelled from their homeland, which we consider a crime.” Mr Abbas is reported to fear that Israel is hoping to establish a new precedent for expelling thousands of Palestinians from the city.  

Hatem Abdel Kader, Fatah’s minister for Jerusalem affairs, was warned this month by the Shin Bet, Israel’s secret police, that he would have his residency revoked if he continued his political activities in the city.  

 Yigal Palmor, a spokesman for the Israeli foreign ministry, said Israel was issuing “a very clear warning to Hamas and all those who promote terror” that they would face a “backlash”.  

Lawyers for the four Hamas politicians petitioned the Israeli Supreme Court this month for an injunction on the expulsions until a hearing can be held on the men’s residency rights. Last week, however, the court declined to stop what it called “deportations”, saying it would issue a ruling at a later date.  

Mr Jabareen, whose Adalah organisation is advising the politicians, said he was “astonished” by the court’s position, and that in all previous expulsion cases an injunction had been issued before the expulsion took place.  

He added: “Under international law, an occupying power cannot demand loyalty from the the people it occupies. Palestinians in East Jerusalem are ‘protected persons’ in law and cannot be expelled.”  

Israel has based its decision on the Entry into Israel Law of 1952, which governs the naturalisation process for non-Jews. It allows the interior minister to revoke citizenship and residency in some cases.

“The purpose of this law is to oversee the entry into Israel of foreigners,” said Mr Jabareen. “The Palestinians of East Jerusalem did not enter Israel; Israel entered East Jerusalem by occupying it in 1967.”  

The revocations of the politicians’ residency comes in the wake of a rapid rise in the number of Palestinians who have been stripped of Jerusalem residency on other grounds, usually because Israel claims the city is no longer the “centre of their life” and typically because a resident has studied or worked abroad.

 In 2008, more than 4,500 Palestinians lost their Jerusalem residency, interior ministry figures show. The number has been steadily rising since 1995, when 91 Palestinians were stripped of their rights. According to Israel, a total of 13,000 Palestinians have had their residency revoked since 1967.

The loss of residency is seen by the Palestinians as part of a wider Israeli strategy to weaken their hold on East Jerusalem and its holy sites.

Israel has built sections of its separation wall through Palestinian neighbourhoods of Jerusalem, cutting off some 60,000 residents from their city.  

It has also shut down all Palestinian political institutions in Jerusalem associated with the Palestinian national movements, and banned events – including a literature festival last year – that it claims are financed with PA money.

 Last week police forced the closure of Hamas’ political office near the Old City. Yuval Diskin, the head of the Shin Bet, had earlier accused Hamas of trying to buy property in Jerusalem.  

In early 2006, shortly before they were arrested, Mr Abu Tir and Mr Abu Arafeh were revealed to have established a diplomatic channel with several prominent Israeli rabbis to negotiate Sgt Shalit’s release and the terms of a possible peace deal. The talks were effectively foiled by their arrests.  

In a related move, Israeli officials have also been threatening to revoke the citizenship of Palestinian leaders inside Israel, including Haneen Zoubi, the Israeli MP who was onboard last month’s aid flotilla to Gaza that Israeli commandos attacked, killing nine passengers.

Jonathan Cook, based in Nazareth, Israel is a winner of the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His latest books are Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East (Pluto Press) and Disappearing Palestine: Israel's Experiments in Human Despair (Zed Books). Read other articles by Jonathan, or visit Jonathan's website.

8 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. rosemerry said on June 29th, 2010 at 11:55am #

    As always, a great aricle by Jonathan Cook. The kidnapping and imprisonment of dozens of elected Hamas politicians has been ignored or forgotten since 2006.I am very interested in this issue and did not know about these four men, nor do I know if any of the others have been released. No other country could get away with this behaviour except the only one allowed to exist, with exponential growth by stealing land and destroying lives, in the Middle East.

  2. Ismail Zayid said on June 29th, 2010 at 2:27pm #

    The expulsion of Palestinians from their homeland illustrates clearly the essence of Zionism in practice. To expel Palestinians because they were elected by their people to the Palestina Legislative Assembly shows the true nature of Israeli democracy as it is applied to the Palestinians under this illegal oppressive occupation.

    Where are the leaders of the so-called free world? Is this their notion of democracy?

  3. Mulga Mumblebrain said on June 30th, 2010 at 4:29am #

    Yes rosemerry,in the racist and Islamophobic sewer of the Western mainstream media, the creepy psychopaths therein, who pretend to be journalists,would never dare to annoy their Zionist owners by mentioning Palestinian prisoners. They must incessantly rant about Shalit, the prisoner-of-war, while ignoring the ten thousand Palestinian prisoners,most illegally held,most certainly tortured, because the terms of employment for the vermin of the Western propaganda media include absolute adherence to all the bedrock tenets of Zionism. And one of the most central of these is that a Jew is an immeasurably higher,more precious, creature than a non-Jew,particularly a ‘two-legged animal’ of the Palestinian, Arab or Islamic type. A similarly vicious, hate-filled double-standard is required of these poltroons when listing the various Zionist lies confected to justify the collective punishment of the Gazan population. One must lie through one’s teeth that this illegal collective punishment commenced in 2007, when it began as soon as the Jews withdrew to the boundaries of the concentration camp, while maintaining total control. One must further lie that Hamas ‘seized control’ of Gaza, when in fact they defeated an attempt, by the Fatah Quislings, led by Dahlan,one of the vilest collaborators, to overturn the 2006 election result. They must also establish their racist credentials by whining on about Jewish ‘suffering’ in Sderot (itself the scene of vicious ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians decades before) while totally ignoring the immensely greater suffering of the Gazans under Jewish bombardment, death-squad attacks, kidnappings and the tightening blockade. But that is simply that racist double-standard, now absolutely required of Western politicians and media, that a Jewish life and Jewish pain is immeasurably more important than that of non-Jews. Here it is where Israel and Zionism are at their most poisonous and evil, in requiring in their employees that this detestable racist calculus becomes de facto state policy throughout the West. That such radical comparative and absolute dehumanisation of non-Jews, Israel’s direct victims most particularly,opens the path to genocide, cannot be denied, and, in its huge nuclear arsenal,predominately neutron bombs, the genocidal weapon without rival, Israel has the means to that end at its disposal. And who can seriously deny that the Israeli ruling clerico-fascist elite, whose ‘religious’ leaders assert that killing civilians, including children, is not just acceptable, but a religiously ordained ‘mitzvah’ or good deed, is just the type of pathocracy to put such diabolical designs into action.

  4. mary said on June 30th, 2010 at 12:11pm #

    This is probably a bit of window dressing but it is said here by the ZBC that Tirkel wants further and greater powers for the flotilla ‘inquiry’.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/10458521.stm

  5. Mulga Mumblebrain said on June 30th, 2010 at 3:26pm #

    Ah, mary, have you seen Greg Sheridan in today’s ‘The Australian’, bragging of how it was Rudd’s decision to expel a Mossad agent in connection to the theft by Israel of Australian passports used in the ritual slaughter in Dubai, that led to Rudd’s fall.Usually the Zionists and their Sabbat Goy stooges(of which Sheridan is a very enthusiastic and sycophantic example)prefer to act behind the scenes. Such open boastfulness might get Sheridan a slap, although Zionist control of our politics is now so absolute that they probably don’t mind the goyim being reminded of just who calls the shots.Sheridan is equally enthusiastic concerning Gillard’s absolute reliability and loyalty to the Holy State, loyalty that appears to have been recognised and rewarded not just by political promotion but in more concrete ways, by the employment of her partner by one of our local Zionist grandees. All they want is absolute admiration,total control and unquestioning loyalty-it’s not much to ask for, from creatures with souls, after all,closer to animals’ than to theirs.

  6. mary said on July 1st, 2010 at 9:03am #

    Ken Livingstone (ex Labour Mayor of London) discusses Jonathan Cook’s new book “Israel and the Clash of Civilizations. Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East” with Dr Ang Swee Chai and Dr Rodwan Abouharb.

    Three You Tubes each 9 mins commencing

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i8j7fdPjlhc

  7. mary said on July 2nd, 2010 at 3:18am #

    Nothing changes.

    Latest News
    ◦July 2 BREAKING NEWS: Assad, Lula slam Israel Gaza policy
    ◦July 2 BREAKING NEWS: Israeli air force bombards several areas in Gaza
    ◦July 2 BREAKING NEWS: Chocolate and ketchup flow into Gaza, but still no cement

    Links on http://australiansforpalestine.com/

  8. mary said on July 2nd, 2010 at 3:25am #

    One Palestinian man was killed in an Israel attack earlier in the week and two were wounded.

    Israeli air strike kills Palestinian man, wounds two
    Tuesday, 29 June 2010 10:31 UK

    A Palestinian man was killed and two others wounded in an Israeli air strike in Gaza, medics there said.

    The Israeli air force said it fired on militants in the northern Gaza Strip after they fired a rocket into Israel.

    A BBC correspondent says the suspected militants are thought to be from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).

    The group is said to operate independently of Hamas, the Islamist movement that controls Gaza.

    Rocket fire out of Gaza has been greatly reduced over the past year after Hamas reigned in attacks, but there continues to be sporadic fire from other militant groups, says the BBC’s Jon Donnison in Gaza.

    It is almost always ineffective with rockets mostly landing in open fields, our correspondent says.

    One Thai farmer in Israel has been killed in the past year.

    Dozens of Palestinian militants have been killed in attacks from Israel over the same period.

    ~~~~

    Note that the word ‘militant’ is used three times by the BBC in this very short report. Anyone killed in Israel is either a soldier or has a job description. A Palestinian is not worthy of even a name.