News of the new legislation that came into force in the West Bank on April 13th, which could threaten mass deportations of Palestinians and foreign NGO workers and activists, had come through just before the ICAHD UK AGM, with little accompanying media coverage.
An emergency resolution was proposed at the AGM, a call to action by ICAHD UK against this legislation. Below is the text of the resolution, further details about the new legislative orders in Q & A format, and addresses to write to to express your objections to the new orders.
Emergency Resolution, ICAHD UK AGM, 2010
Proposed by Ian McDonald, seconded by Brian Robinson
ICAHD UK is appalled to learn that under new legislation introduced in Israel on 13 April, any Palestinian or foreign national present in the West Bank without a valid residential permit can be deported within 72 hours, or jailed for up to seven years. The legislation is termed the Order Regarding Prevention of Infiltration and the Order Regarding Security Provision. This is just one further step in removing Palestinians from land which Israel wishes to colonise, and is a form of ethnic cleansing, depriving residents of their homes and right to continue living and working in their homeland. This move is illegal under international law. We shall seek to give publicity to this resistance by the Israeli state to finding a peaceful solution to the conflict, and their clear intention to deprive the Palestinians of any real prospect for an independent state of their own, or alternatively for them to be assimilated into a single federal state for all Israelis and Palestinians. We will work with UK, EU and other relevant international agencies for a reversal of this draconian law and its inherent punishment of the indigenous population.
ICAHD UK also recognises the potentially grave implications of this new _legislationa in undermining and incapacitating the presence and activities of internationals (including NGO workers and activists) in Israel and the OPTsa.
Frequently Asked Questions on new legislation
On April 13, 2010 order number 1650 (“the order” or “the new order”) went into effect in the West Bank as an amendment to an existing order on “prevention of infiltration”. Another order, number 1649, an amendment to an existing order on “security provisions”, was also issued, addressing procedural matters stemming from the new order. The new order is worded very vaguely, such that it is not entirely clear to whom it applies and what it means. The following document was prepared to answer questions on the meaning of the order, as far as can be understood from its language, from the procedures that preceded its amendment and from various statements by Israeli officials.
1) What is new about the amended order?
The new order, which applies to all parts of the West Bank (except for east Jerusalem), changes the definition of “infiltrator”, the penalty for infiltration and the way a person can prove he or she is not an infiltrator.
a) The definition of “infiltrator”:
In the previous order: Anyone entering the West Bank without a permit after being in one of the following countries: Jordan, Syria, Egypt, Lebanon. In other words, the old order applied mainly to Palestinian refugees and others who came from countries which, when the order was amended in 1969, were “enemy countries”.
In the new order: Anyone entering the West Bank “unlawfully” from anyplace and anyone who entered lawfully but “does not lawfully hold a permit”. The new order actually defines everyone as an infiltrator unless he or she can prove his or her entrance into the West Bank and presence there are lawful.
b) The penalty for “infiltration”:
In the previous order: Up to 15 years in prison and/or a fine.
In the new order: The penalty for entering unlawfully is set at up to seven years in prison, and for entering lawfully but residing unlawfully at up to three years in prison.
c)Proving “lawful presence”:
In the previous order: Presentation of a document identifying its bearer as a resident of the West Bank. A resident of the West Bank was defined as anyone whose permanent place of residence is in the West Bank. In other words, according to the old order a person could prove the lawfulness of his or her presence with a document proving residency in the West Bank, with residence being determined only by actual place of residence, i.e. the site of their home.
In the new order: A document or permit issued by the military commander or the authorities in Israel authorizing presence in the West Bank. Therefore, in the new order, lawful presence can be proven only by a document or permit issued by the state of Israel. The definition of “resident of the West Bank” as someone whose permanent place of residence is the West Bank was deleted from the new order. Israel, which controls the Palestinian population registry, thus determines who is a “resident” of the West Bank rather than the determination arising from the place of one’s residence or center of life.
2) To whom does the order apply?
It is difficult to determine to whom the order applies because it is written in such vague language. The new order creates a presumption that every person is an “infiltrator” unless he or she can prove that both his or her entrance to and presence in the West Bank were approved by the military commander or the relevant Israeli authorities. The order could seemingly apply to everyone: bearers of Palestinian identity cards, residents of east Jerusalem, Israeli citizens and foreigners. However, judging from current military policy vis-à-vis residents of the West Bank it can be assumed that the order is intended to apply to three main groups:
a) Palestinian residents who hold Palestinian identity cards in which their address is listed as the Gaza Strip (with Israel refusing to register changes of address of people who move from Gaza to the West Bank);
b) Persons “without status”, mainly the spouses of residents of the West Bank who hold Palestinian identity cards, who entered with visitor permits that Israel refuses to extend, and;
c) Foreign nationals, including businesspeople, employees of international organizations and others who received visas for Israel (allowing presence in the West Bank as well) or special visas for the West Bank, but the visas expired and Israel refuses to renew them.
Please write to the following people, stating your objections to the new legislation. Note that a physical letter can be more effective than an email.
Ehud Barak, Minister of Defence
Ministry of Defence
37 Kaplan Street
Tel Aviv 61909, Israel
Fax: +972 3 691 6940
Salutation: Dear Minister
The Israeli Ambassador in the UK:
Mr Ron Prosor
15a Old Court Place
British Ambassador to Israel:
Mr Tom Phillips CMG
192 Hayarkon Street
Tel Aviv 63405