Friday, August 17, 2018

‘Loyalty Law’: The new threat towards Palestinians living in East Jerusalem


By Alicia Ramos Perez - June 05, 2018
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Section: [Main News] [Features]
Tags: [Jerusalem]

“I think you should start in 1967, when Israel annexed East Jerusalem, but did not annex the people. Both actions are against international law. The land of East Jerusalem that became annexed was Israeli land. The people got only a residency right. Since then, it was very easy to revoke the residency right from the Palestinian people.” 

Palestine Monitor interviewed Moien Odeh, advocate and lawyer who works in Ramallah and East Jerusalem, helping to reverse the statelessness status for Palestinians that have lost their Jerusalem ID.
 
On March 7, the Israeli Parliament passed a new amendment to the already existing 'Entry into Israel Law’. This would enable the Minister of Interior – now leader of the ultra-Orthodox party, Aryeh Deri – to revoke the permanent residency status of Palestinians living in East Jerusalem under the grounds of 'breach of allegiance to Israel’.
 
Discriminatory residency revocation and Israel’s forcible transfer of Palestinians from Jerusalem have been an ongoing situation since the illegal annexation of East Jerusalem in 1967. The Knesset has placed several mechanisms to revoke residency status in the past years. These policies have been creating a growing distress among Palestinians living in East Jerusalem as they fear losing their residence permit based on who the Minister of Interior deems as a threat. Palestinian Jerusalemites believe the basis of this law is vague and an illegal criterion.
 
“Minister of Interior is entitled to cancel a permanent residence permit […] based on his opinion, that the holder has committed an act which is considered a breach of loyalty to the State of Israel,” Odeh told Palestine Monitor. Hereby the amendment number 30 to the 'Entry into Israel’ Law.
 
Odeh explained how risky this amendment could be towards the Palestinians living in East Jerusalem. “The dangerous thing about this law will be when […] they add the clause of affiliation.” Odeh was referring to the definitions the Knesset provided in the new law amendment of 'Breach of loyalty’. According to Amendment No. 30 of 2018 section D, breach of loyalty can mean any of the following three: if the person affected commits an act of 'treason’, 'espionage’ or commits an act of 'terrorism’ or assistance and participation in a terrorist group.
 
The main issue, as stated by Odeh, is that according to the Israeli regulations, “most, if not all the Palestinian parties are considered as 'terrorist’.” The list of 'terrorist groups’ against Israel is operated through a regulation which is frequently updated.
 
“If you are Hamas you’ll lose it, if you’re PFLP you’ll lose it, if you’re Fatah you’ll lose it… Suddenly you will find tens of thousands of people losing their residency.” Odeh insisted in the reality which Palestinian Jerusalemites would be facing after the total implementation of this regulation. “How can you decide if you’re Fatah or Hamas or PFLP…? There is no card or membership that can state that!”
 
Since the imposition of this law, four members of the Legislative Palestinian Council (PLC) have had their Jerusalem ID revoked. One the four members affected by this new law, Ahmad Attoun, carried out an interview with Al Jazeera on May 26. “Exile is like death. Jerusalem is now just a few metres away from me, but I can't enter. There are no words to describe the pain we are feeling,” Attoun told Al Jazeera.
 
When asked about the four members of PLC to Odeh, he replied: “those men were elected by the Palestinian people, they have been punished by Israel for being elected.”
 
In addition to the disproportionate use of power and lethal force, coercive measures and illegal land appropriation and exploitation, Israel’s parliament are working to advance new measures and policies that would enable a total control over Palestine. The measures willexpand its settler and colonial project, specifically in Jerusalem. Its segregation plans have physically isolated Palestinians and have institutionalised these procedures through ongoing creations of applicable legal regimes.
 
“Israel has a long-term plan. Israel has a plan to control as much as possible and push away as [many] Palestinians from Jerusalem as possible.” Here, Odeh gave an insight on how this new law could in the long term affect the Palestinians inhabiting East Jerusalem.
 
Israel has been increasing the revocation of Jerusalem residency as a punitive measure. This accounts as a crime against humanity under Article 7 of the Rome Statute as it falls under section D: deportation or forcible transfer.
 
Additionally, recent international legislation, including the Hague Regulations and Fourth Geneva Conventions explicitly prohibit the occupying and oppressing power to demand any king of allegiance from the occupied oppressed population. However, as the head of the legal department at Hamoked told Al Jazeera, “this is exactly what Israel is doing.” Through this law, Israel is leaving Palestinians from East Jerusalem completely stateless.
 
When asking about the legal status of the Palestinians living in East Jerusalem, Moinen said: “they need to give them a new status and position.”
 
According to figures supplied by the Ministry of Interior, since 1967 Israel has revoked the residency status for more than 14,500 Palestinians living in East Jerusalem. If dependent children of the those stripped of their residency rights in Jerusalem is included, the number of Palestinians that have lost their residency right would raise to approximately 86,000.
 
“They [Palestinians in East Jerusalem] are afraid. We prefer to keep silent because we hope that if we keep silent, we’ll continue the legal fight and we will get it back,” Odeh concluded.
 

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