Friday, 16 April 2010

Prelude to Transfer - Military Orders 1649 and 1650

The Legal Basis for the Expulsion of the Palestinians of the West Bank is now Established

As the editorial from Haaretz states, Israel’s new military orders 1649 and 1650 ‘is liable to give the world clear-cut proof that Israel's aim is a mass deportation of Palestinians from the West Bank.' Haaretz, being an impeccably Zionist newspaper, but of a liberal disposition, is worried that the ethnic cleansers, murderers and self-declared racists that constitute Israel’s government, are doing more damage to the Zionist cause than anything the Palestinians have yet been able to muster.

Under the guise of ‘security’ considerations and a bogus legalism that is in flagrant breach of Article 49 of the 4th Geneva Convention, Israel’s Military are laying the legal basis for the forcible ‘transfer’ of the population of the West Bank to Jordan or other Arab countries. This is another fruit of the ‘peace process’. It is deportation by stealth. There won’t, at first anyway, be mass deportations such as occurred in 1947-8. For that there would be a need for a ‘miracle’ such as a war.

The Zionist position though has always been clear. A Jewish State could only be established where there was a clear Jewish majority and in 1947-8 this entailed the expulsion of the Arab population of Palestine, who even in the area allotted by the UN to the Jewish State constituted half of the population. As Josef Weitz, former head of the Jewish Agency’s Colonisation Department in the Histadrut paper Davar of 29th September 1967, citing an entry in his Diary in 1940:

Between ourselves it must be clear that there is no room for both peoples together in this country… the only solution is Palestine, at least Western (Mandate) Palestine without Arabs… and there is no other way but to transfer the Arabs from here to the neighbouring countries; to transfer all of them; not one village, not one tribe should be left.’

And then he explained Israel’s ‘dilemma’ after the 1967 War thus:

‘When the UN resolved to partition Palestine into two states, the [1948] War of Independence broke out, to our great good fortune [sic!], and in it there came to pass a double miracle: a territorial victory and the flight of the Arabs. In the [1967] Six Days’ War there came to pass one great miracle, a tremendous territorial victory, but the majority of the inhabitants of the liberated territories remained ‘attached’ to their places, which is liable to destroy the foundation of our State. The demographic problem is the most acute, especially when to its numerical weight is added the weight of the refugees.’ Yosef Weitz, ‘Solution to the refugee problem: The State of Israel with a small Arab minority’, Davar, 29.9. 67.
And that is the problem. Instead of 2 miracles, god only saw fit to bestow one miracle on his chosen people. It is therefore necessary for Zionism to try and succeed where god failed. The 2 military orders that have just been issued pave the way for that second miracle. Unlike the settlers, who have a god given right to live there, the indigenous population will, through the use of legal chicanery that creates such categories as ‘present-absentees’ now classify those who live there as ‘infiltrators’.

At the same time as the Palestinian Authority believes that it is setting up a state, Israel is acting to remove any Palestinian presence from the West Bank. The best comparison with the PA is not so much Quisling as the Jewish Councils (Judenrat) in Europe who compiled the lists and ensured that the Gestapo’s every demand was left. Until, as in the Netherlands, there was no one but themselves left to deport.

Those who believe that the issue is the establishment of 2 States rather than the question of Zionism and its programme of expulsion and massacre are fostering illusions that the Israeli state could ever live as a ‘normal’ state in peace with its own non-Jewish inhabitants, still less those of the Occupied Territories.

Tony Greenstein

Annul order allowing expulsions of Arabs, groups urge Barak

By Amira Hass

Ten Israeli human rights organizations sent a letter to Defense Minister Ehud Barak yesterday, asking him to rescind two military orders permitting the immediate expulsion from the West Bank of thousands of Palestinians and others defined as "infiltrators" from the West Bank.

The orders are supposed to take effect on Wednesday.

The organizations, including the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, Rabbis for Human Rights and Adalah - the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, called the orders illegal, and said they permit arbitrary, extreme harm to a huge number of people.

As Haaretz reported yesterday, six months ago then-Israel Defense Forces West Bank commander Gadi Shamni signed one order designed to prevent infiltration, and another regarding security directives.

The letter to Barak states that under the orders, "any Palestinian in the West Bank is at risk of facing criminal charges as well as expulsion, and could be be expelled without [recourse] to appeal or oversight, as required by law."

It notes that in March, the Moked Center for the Defense of the Individual sent a letter to GOC Central Commander Maj. Gen. Avi Mizrahi, stating the orders had grave implications. That letter did not receive a response.

The organizations sent copies of yesterday's letter to Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein and to military justice officials as well.

Publication of the matter has aroused major concern among those whom the orders would affect: People with Gaza addresses who live in the West Bank, and foreigners with family in the West Bank whom Israel has not allowed to obtain residency through family unification. As a result of the media interest, the IDF spokesman issued a clarification stating: "The law in Judea and Samaria [the West Bank] permitted the expulsion of illegal residents in the past, too. The aim of the amendment to the order on infiltration is to enable a judicial review process for the expulsion proceedings ... by a committee headed by a judge, and therefore to provide additional oversight."
Lawyers Elad Kahana and Ido Blum of the Moked Center said the IDF response fails to address the primary order regarding infiltrators, which does address judicial oversight at all. They told Haaretz that the change now permits almost anyone in the West Bank to be defined as an illegal infiltrator and be subject to expulsion. They say the other order actually thwarts judicial oversight, because it allows for expulsion within three days or less, while judicial oversight would apply only after eight days.

Urgent meetings were convened in Ramallah yesterday, and social activists and people at risk from the orders are planning an urgent meeting today, to demand that the Palestinian Authority and the diplomatic community take action.

The international media also has taken great interest in the story.

The head of the Palestine Liberation Organization's negotiating team, Saeb Erekat, issued an official statement of condemnation, saying the military orders come from an apartheid state and turn Palestinians into criminals in their own homes, directly harming the Palestinians' ability to manage their internal affairs.

Officials in Ramallah said they will report on the matter to Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, who will be in Germany today on his way a Madrid conference of donor countries.

IDF bid to expel West Bank Palestinians is a step too far
By Haaretz Editorial

A new military order will take effect this week, enabling the army to deport tens of thousands of Palestinians from the West Bank and prosecute them on infiltration charges, which carry long prison terms. The order, uncovered by Amira Hass in Haaretz yesterday, bears the signature of Maj. Gen. Gadi Shamni in his previous capacity as commander of the Israel Defense Forces in Judea and Samaria.

The order's vague language will allow army officers to exploit it arbitrarily to carry out mass expulsions, in accordance with military orders which were issued under unclear circumstances. The first candidates for expulsion will be people whose ID cards bear addresses in the Gaza Strip, including children born in the West Bank and Palestinians living in the West Bank who have lost their residency status for various reasons.

This would be a grave and dangerous move, unprecedented during the Israeli occupation. For years, Israel has used a heavy hand against the Palestinian population registry, trampling basic human rights such as the freedom to move one's residence within the occupied territories. Many Palestinians' lives have thus been made very difficult because they have been cut off from their previous places of residence without being able to return or legally register their new addresses.

The right of all Palestinians to choose where to live in the West Bank or Gaza marks a very low threshold for defining their human rights. Israel, which justifiably prevents Palestinians from returning to where they lived before 1948 and does not offer them fair compensation for their property (while enabling Jews to recover property from the same period, as has happened in Sheikh Jarrah), cannot expel Palestinians from the occupied territories on the basis of dubious bureaucratic claims.

Implementing this new military order is not only likely to spark a new conflagration in the territories, it is liable to give the world clear-cut proof that Israel's aim is a mass deportation of Palestinians from the West Bank. While all Jews can settle wherever they wish, in Israel or in the territories, Israel is trying to deprive the Palestinians of even the minimal right to choose where to live in the West Bank or Gaza. The prime minister and defense minister should immediately shelve this military order before the IDF feels free to begin carrying out expulsions.

PCHR Condemn New Israeli Military Orders Aimed at Expelling West Bank Palestinians
Monday, 12 April 2010 11:00
Tomorrow, 13 April 2010, two new Israeli military orders will come into effect, potentially turning all West Bank residents into “infiltrators”.
Order No. 1650 regarding Prevention of Infiltration and Order No. 1649 regarding Security Provisions were issued in October 2009 as amendments to an old military order (1969) which declared “infiltrators” coming from Jordan, Syria, Egypt or Lebanon (the so-called “enemy states” at the time of the issuance of the order) liable to imprisonment and deportation.

The new orders define an “infiltrator” in such generic terms that virtually any person currently present in the West Bank could potentially fall under that definition and consequently incur criminal liability and/or be subject to deportation.

An “infiltrator” is defined as “a person who entered the Area unlawfully” or “a person who is present in the Area and does not lawfully hold a permit”. The ‘Area’ refers to the occupied West Bank.

Pursuant to Military order No. 1650 any person who unlawfully entered the area shall be sentenced to seven years imprisonment, whereas an individual who has lawfully entered the area but does not “hold a permit” shall be sentenced to three years imprisonment.

Moreover, regardless of whether the “infiltrator” is charged with an offence under the Order or not, the military commander may order the deportation of the person from the area; the issuance of the deportation order shall be considered as an arrest order and serve as the “legal source for holding such infiltrator in custody pending his deportation”. The deportation can be executed 72 hours after the order, and in some cases even sooner.

As a consequence of the dramatic expansion and ambiguity of the new definition of “infiltrator” the Order not applies to people coming from so-called “enemy states”, as in the past; it now applies to every Palestinian, both those who were born in the West Bank and those who lawfully moved to it, for instance from Gaza or from abroad.

The new regulation establishes that every person without a document or permit is “presumed to be an infiltrator”. According to Order 1650 the permit is a document issued by the military commander, or a person appointed by him in accordance with security legislation, or by Israeli authorities under the Entry into Israel Law, 5712-1952. As has been highlighted by Hamoked Center for the Defence of the Individual, the broadness of the definition suggests that the Order applies to every person currently present in the West Bank regardless of his status, identity, or nationality.
In fact over the past number of years, thousands of applications made by persons living in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) since decades in accordance with the Interim Agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority or by Palestinians seeking family reunification have been illegally “frozen” by the Israeli authorities who refused to grant them status in the oPt.

Additionally, since 1967 thousands of Palestinians moved to the West Bank from the Gaza Strip and they were never required to have a written permit, as there was no requirement under the military legislation to hold a written permit.

It appears that pursuant to the new military orders thousands of residents in the West Bank will be potentially subject to immediate deportation.

Such a practice would constitute a breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention, and in particular of Article 49, which prohibits any kind of forcible transfer as well as the deportation of protected persons (civilians) from the occupied territory.

It must also be noted that pursuant to military order No. 1649 regarding Security Provisions a person can challenge the deportation order before a committee appointed by the military commander (“The Committee for Examining Deportation Orders”) which shall be established accordingly.

The Order does not regulate the modalities pursuant to which the appeal can be brought before the Committee; however, it is established that the person who is held in custody pursuant to a deportation order “shall be brought before the Committee as soon as possible and no later than 8 days from the date of issuance of the deportation order”.

It is evident that this system is intrinsically flawed: first of all PCHR stresses again that no genuine judicial system is possible pursuant to the Israeli military system (see the most recent PCHR Report “Genuinely Unwilling” of February 2010).
Second, according to Order No. 1650 the deportation order can be implemented within 3 days (or even less in certain circumstances), long before the 8 day time frame established for appeals hearings by Order No.1649.

It can be expected that in most of the cases the person will be deported without any possibility of challenging the order pursuant to which he has been arrested and deported.

Such a system is a blatant breach of international human rights standards, which require that every provision involving restriction of liberty must be subject to judicial review.
PCHR strongly condemns the issuance of these new military orders and calls upon Israel not to implement them.

These orders form part of the criminal policy that Israel has developed over the years against the Palestinian people; this policy combine occupation, apartheid, colonization and forced displacement of the population.

The contents of the new military orders are in blatant violation of international human rights standards and international law principles and represent one more tool in the hand of the Israeli occupation forces to control and alter the demographic composition of the oPt and ultimately impose a Jewish majority in Israel and the occupied territory.

These new orders – ostensibly enacted as ‘security measures’ – are, in fact, aimed at legitimising the forcible transfer and deportation of the civilian population of the oPt.

Israel, through its military commanders, is taking unlawful measures to eradicate the Palestinian people from their territory and take overall control of the area.

PCHR is seriously concerned about the implementation of these orders which could amount to individual or mass forcible transfer, as well as deportation of protected persons, measures absolutely prohibited under Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

PCHR calls the international community to take action and put an end to the illegal population transfer, segregation and displacement that is taking place in the oPt and to impede the implementation of these new unlawful tools. PCHR remind that States Parties to the Geneva Convention have the duty to ensure respect for the conventions in all circumstances.

Immediate action must be taken if the international community is to prevent the aggravation of the criminal policy pursued by Israel in the oPt.

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