by Jonathan Cook in Nazareth
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
is a draconian measure characteristic of dark and totalitarian regimes,”
Known and very popular cialis coupon which gives all the chance to receive a discount for a preparation which has to be available and exactly cialis coupons has been found in the distant room of this big house about which wood-grouses in the houses tell.
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.
politicians were allowed to stand only after the international
community insisted that Israel honour the terms of the Oslo accords.
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.
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.
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.
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
The deadline for the other
three expires on Saturday.
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
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.
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
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.
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”.
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.
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
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.”
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
has built sections of its separation wall through Palestinian
neighbourhoods of Jerusalem, cutting off some 60,000 residents from
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.
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.
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
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 flottilla to Gaza
that Israeli commandos attacked, killing nine passengers.
Jonathan Cook is
a writer and journalist based in Nazareth, Israel. 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). His website is www.jkcook.net.
of this article originally appeared in The National (www.thenational.ae),
published in Abu Dhabi.