Israel tries to deport stateless Palestinian journalist, Jordan refuses him entry

Mustafa Al-Haruf

Palestinian journalist Mustafa Al-Haruf 

A stateless Palestinian journalist was twice refused entry into Jordan on Sunday night, as Israeli authorities attempted to deport him, reported Haaretz.

Mustafa Al-Haruf was born in Algeria but has lived with his family in occupied East Jerusalem since he was 12. For some 20 years, Haruf had a residency permit for Jerusalem that was renewed periodically.

Israel’s Interior Ministry has “rejected Haruf’s application for family unification petition with his wife and their two-year-old daughter — his wife is from East Jerusalem, and both she and their child have permanent Israeli residency status.”

Haruf was arrested in January for “illegally residing in Israel”, and has been detained without charge or trial since then.

READ: Israeli military court sentences female Palestinian journalist to 13 months in jails

Overnight Sunday, Israeli authorities attempted to deport him to Jordan at two separate border crossings, but Jordanian officials refused to grant him entry. Haruf was returned to Israeli detention.

Haruf has already exhausted various legal channels and appeals, including at the Israeli Supreme Court, where Justice Neal Hendel “ruled Thursday that Haruf and his counsel bear the burden of proof that he lacks residency rights or citizenship in Jordan or anywhere else”.

According to Haruf’s lawyer Adi Lustigman, “Haruf’s only travel document is a laissez passer that doesn’t permit residency in Jordan or any other country.”

Lustigman told Arab News that the Israeli actions were “both illegal and immoral”.

READ: Israel’s war against press freedom

(Source / 23.07.2019) 

Israel gives green light for civilian aircraft to overfly occupied West Bank

Image of Ben Gurion International Airport in Israel [lleewu/Flickr]

Ben Gurion International Airport in Israel 

The Israel Airports Authority (IAA) has opened a new flight path to Ben Gurion International Airport which sees civilian aircraft flying at low altitude over the outskirts of Ramallah and other West Bank cities, reports Haaretz.

This new route could expose aircraft to ground fire as they pass over the West Bank and poses a “security risk”, but despite this, the new route was approved by the Israeli army. A former high-ranking official at Israel’s Civil Aviation Authority acknowledged the risk but said that in the event of a plane being fired on while using this flight path, the “gates of hell” would be opened against the Palestinians in the occupied territory.

A few weeks ago, Israel accused Russia of interfering with GPS systems in its airspace. Russia has rejected the allegations and called them “fake news”. Nevertheless, following reports of aircraft losing signals to their GPS near Ben Gurion Airport, the IAA was forced to stress that “measures are in place to allow safe landings and take offs” at the airport despite the disruption.

Israeli officials also had to stop flights using the former route that avoided overflying the West Bank. They installed a new system that enables aircraft to land when pilots have no visual contact with the runway.

Relations between Israel and Russia are strained, with the former’s “unofficial” interference in the Syrian civil war and regular air strikes on Iranian positions in Syria increasing tensions between Moscow and Tel Aviv.

READ: Germany’s leading airline suspends flights to Cairo

(Source / 23.07.2019) 

At least 16 unauthorised Israel settler outposts established since 2017

An aerial view of a Jewish settlement in East Jerusalem on 4 October 2018 [Mostafa Alkharouf/Anadolu Agency]

An aerial view of a Jewish settlement in East Jerusalem on 4 October 2018

At least 16 unauthorised Israeli settlement “outposts” have been established since 2017, a new Peace Now report has revealed, with authorities not only turning a blind eye to the expansion but even at times helping to retroactively “legalise” the outposts.

Israel makes a distinction between official and unofficial settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt); under international law, all settlements in the oPt are illegal.

According to Peace Now, a total of 31 such outposts have been established from 2012-2019.

Haaretz newspaper, reporting on the data, said its journalists visited all of the new outposts “over the past few weeks”, and found that most “are various kinds of farms”.

The outposts are located all over the occupied West Bank, “from the regional council in the southern Hebron Hills to the northern West Bank, the Jordan Valley, Mateh Binyamin Regional Council and Gush Etzion.”

READ: Netanyahu vows never to dismantle illegal Israel settlements

As well as small outposts established by right-wing youth, some outposts “are stronger and better connected”, with the regional councils “directly behind some of them”. These outposts “are growing stronger and receive the de facto protection of the authorities,” Haaretz said.

Although none are legal, all were established on so-called “state land”, land in the oPt designated by Israeli occupation authorities as under its control.

Haaretz noted that “some of these outposts have indeed been issued demolition orders, but they are still standing”, adding that “illegal construction on state land can be retroactively legalized by the state”.

Shabtay Bendet, who heads the settlement monitoring team of Peace Now, said: “The two-faced conduct of the government of Israel with regard to illegal settlements continues at full pace.”

“More and more illegal outposts are being established at full pace in the depths of the West Bank. The law enforcement authorities ignore the theft of land and legalize that which is illegal, without government approval as required and without public discussion of the matter.”

READ: Israel authorities advance plans for 150-unit settlement in Beit Hanina

(Source / 23.07.2019) 

Hamas: Israel demolition of Palestinian homes in Jerusalem ‘ethnic cleansing’

Israeli soldiers demolish a 2 storey building with bulldozers as they have started to demolish buildings belonging to Palestinians on the grounds that the ten buildings are close to wire barriers, which are continuation of the separation wall in Wadi al-Hummus neighborhood of Sur Baher region of East Jerusalem on 22 July 2019. [ Issam Rimawi - Anadolu Agency ]

Israeli soldiers demolish a 2 storey building with bulldozers in East Jerusalem on 22 July 2019

Hamas yesterday described the Israeli demolition of more than 100 Palestinian apartments in occupied Jerusalem as “ethnic cleansing”.

In a press release, Hamas spokesman Hazim Qasim said: “The increasing Israeli crimes against Palestinians in the holy city is a result of the endless American support for the racist behaviour of the Israeli occupation.”

He added: “The American support for the Israeli occupation encouraged it to carry out more crimes against the Palestinians, mainly after the Bahrain economic workshop, whose consequences we had warned about.”

Qasim continued: “All the racist Israeli crimes and policies will never stop the resistance of the Palestinians against the colonial Zionist enterprise which has been targeting the Palestinian people and their land.”

READ: Israel’s demolition of 100 homes in Jerusalem a ‘war crime’

The Hamas spokesman stressed that the “comprehensive” resistance is the “only way” to end the Israeli occupation.

Israeli demolition of the Palestinian homes in Jerusalem’s neighbourhood of Sur Baher was widely condemned by regional and international powers, in addition to rights groups.

In a statement released yesterday the UN said: “We are following with sadness today the Israeli authorities’ destruction of homes in the Palestinian community of Sur Bahir.”

“Among those forcibly displaced or otherwise impacted are Palestine refugees, some of whom today are facing the reality of a second displacement in living memory.”

Adding: “Israel’s policy of destroying Palestinian property is not compatible with its obligations under international humanitarian law.”

READ: Israel demolishes farming and commercial facilities in occupied West Bank

The United Nations has called on Israel to stop its demolitions of Palestinian homes.

176 Palestinians were driven out of their homes by occupation forces in 2018.

193 Palestinians have been displaced from East Jerusalem in the *first four months* of 2019

Meer weergeven

(Source / 23.07.2019) 

PA: Israel has cancelled Areas A and B in Palestinian territories

The Israeli occupation demolished 16 residential buildings, including more than 100 apartments

The Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority said on Monday that the Israeli occupation authorities have basically cancelled the division of the occupied Palestinian territories into so-called Areas A and B, Safa news agency has reported. Mohammad Shtayyeh pointed out that most of the Palestinian buildings in Jerusalem’s Sur Baher, which were demolished on Monday, are located in these areas, which were delineated by the Oslo Accord 25 years ago.

Speaking during the weekly meeting of his government, Shtayyeh added that the PA would not deal with the Israeli divisions, citing Israel’s violation of international law and the agreements signed with the Palestinians. He pointed out that PA President Mahmoud Abbas has directed the Foreign Minister to add the Israeli demolition of Palestinian homes in Jerusalem to the case raised at the International Criminal Court.

Meanwhile, the Prime Minister condemned the remarks by US officials related to the Palestinian-Israeli struggle. Anyone who denies Israel’s violations against the Palestinians, he said, speaks about Israel’s “right” to annex the West Bank settlements, and claims that Israel is a victim, is committing a “dangerous” mistake.

“Such a person has no conscience if they can’t see the ugliness of the military occupation, theft of land and natural resources, human rights violations and racial discrimination,” said Shtayyeh. “Provocative remarks like these reflect the full support of the US administration to the right wing Israeli government, its settlement policy and its violations of agreements and international law.”

On Monday, the Israeli occupation demolished 16 residential buildings, including more than 100 apartments, in Wadi Hummus area in Jerusalem’s Sur Baher neighbourhood. The area is nominally under the PA’s administrative and security control.

READ: Israel demolishes farming and commercial facilities in occupied West Bank

(Source / 23.07.2019) 

Barak apologises for killing of 12 Arab-Israelis during Second Intifada

Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak

Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak

Leader of the newly-established Israel Democratic Party (Yisrael Demokratit), Ehud Barak, has apologised for the killing of 12 Palestinian citizens of Israel during his tenure as Israeli prime minister.

Speaking on Israeli Public Radio today, Barak said that he “take[s] responsibility for what happened during [his] tenure as prime minister, including the October events,” referring to the killing of 12 Arab-Israeli protesters by Israeli forces.

Another Palestinian was killed in the Gaza Strip and scores were wounded in what became a seminal moment in the Second Intifada, a Palestinian uprising across the territories which took place between September 2000 and early 2005.

“There is no place for protesters to be killed by their country’s security forces,” Barak continued, adding: “I am expressing my regret and apology before the families and before Israeli society.”

Barak also acknowledged comments made by Esawi Freige, an Arab-Israeli Knesset Member (MK) with left-wing party Meretz, who earlier this month called on the former prime minister to pull out of September’s election race in light of the killings.

Freige added that his party would reject any agreement with Barak’s Israel Democratic Party over the killings, saying: “Do us a favour. Save your apology. Return to your luxury towers and let us do the work, don’t get in our way. The Arabs don’t want to be a fig leaf and a lifesaver. We want to be partners.”

Responding to these comments today, Barak said that “[Freige] wrote important words that come from a place of pain. These things should never happen, not then and not today. I am not evading responsibility over events from the past, but I believe I can be part of the solution.”

Barak: Netanyahu’s corruption is ‘limitless’

Barak’s comments will likely be seen as a bid to reach out to Meretz ahead of the 1 August deadline to declare party slates for the 17 September general election.

Though, following the formation of the Israel Democratic Party in June, talk quickly emerged of a broad left-wing merger which would comprise Barak’s party, Meretz and the Israeli Labor Party, these hopes were dashed this week when the Labor party’s recently-elected chairman, Amir Peretz, announced his party would merge with Gesher.

Gesher is headed by Orly Levy-Abekasis, a former MK with Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu party. She left the party in 2016 over Yisrael Beiteinu’s entry into government, saying it had abandoned its social platform during negotiations. She has since been serving as an independent MK.

Meretz was reportedly outraged at the move, saying in a statement that “Amir Peretz is repeating [former Labor leader] Avi Gabbay’s mistake and is destroying the chances of unions in the left bloc. Instead of a large union, he chose a small defence.”

With both Barak’s Democratic party and Meretz teetering near the minimum 3.25 per cent electoral threshold needed to sit in the Knesset, both risk political extinction if they waste crucial left-wing votes.

Meretz relied heavily on Palestinian citizens of Israel’s votes in the April election; how the 1.8-million-strong community will respond, both to Barak’s apology and to Meretz’s potential merger with the former prime minister’s party, is as yet unclear.

READ: Israeli poll suggests limited impact of joint Labor-Meretz-Barak slate

Barak’s apology is also likely an attempt to deflect attention away from the scandal surrounding his association with Jeffrey Epstein, a US billionaire who was this month arrested on suspicion of sex trafficking underage girls.

In an affair that has marred his political comeback, Barak was revealed to have held a multi-million-dollar business partnership with Epstein as recently as 2015. Just days after details of the partnership emerged, Barak announced that, in light of the accusations made against Epstein, he had instructed his lawyers to look into breaking off the association.

Barak has also threatened to sue British newspaper the Daily Mail for publishing photos of him entering Epstein’s New York mansion alongside photos of young women the paper claimed he had entered the property on the same day.

These revelations left Barak reeling, particularly given the huge pressure applied by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has called for his election rival to be “investigated immediately” over his ties to the US billionaire. Netanyahu will likely use Barak’s apology as another opportunity to attack his long-time rival, trying to discredit any opposition figure as too weak to be prime minister.

Israel election: Barak vows never to sit in Netanyahu government

(Source / 23.07.2019) 

Palestinian President Undermines Judiciary Independence

22 JUL9:31 PM

The Palestinian President issued two laws by decree on 15 July 2019.  The first one is dissolved the High Judicial Council (HJC) and assigned a transitional one while the other amended the Palestinian Judicial Authority Law No.1/2002 and reduced judges’ retirement age to 60 years.

The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) condemns the dissolution of the HJC by the Palestinian President and considers it a blatant interference in the judicial affairs and independence, in form and substance.

It is also considered a violation of the principle of separation of powers, codified in Article 98 of the 2003 Palestinian Basic Law: “Judges shall be independent and shall not be subject to any authority other than the authority of the law while exercising their duties.  No other authority may interfere in the judiciary or in judicial affairs.”

In response to the dissolution decision, PCHR’s Director, Raji Sourani, said that “This decision is not only an attack on the independence of the judiciary; it would also prejudice the judges’ personal and career interests and their reputation. It also reveals the absence of political will for real judicial reform.” Sourani continued, “Now that both the legislative and judicial authorities are dissolved; the institutional essence of the state is absent and we are left with a centric political system revolving around the President.”

Whereas both decrees mention being issued in compliance with the recommendations of the National Committee for the Development of the Justice Sector, PCHR reasserts that judges criticized the creation of the committee itself, and that the Judges’ Club issued a press release on the matter emphasizing that the formation of said Committee jeopardizes the integrity and independence of the judiciary. Palestinian human rights organizations supported the stance taken by the Judges’ Club at the time, as the latter is representative of the judiciary’s best interest and orientation.[1]

Additionally, the Committee overlooked the factual causes weakening the Palestinian judiciary, primarily the executive-overreach and meddling in judicial affairs.

This overreach was evident in a number of instances, most prominent was the overthrowing of Chief Justice, Sami Sarsour, who was blackmailed into signing his resignation letter before assuming his role as Chief Justice, and it was used by the executive branch upon deciding to oust him. PCHR vehemently condemned the incident and considered it an erosion of judicial independence[2].

The problematic independence of the High Constitutional Court (HCC) was disregarded by both the recommendations of the aforementioned Committee and the recent laws by decree.

HCC was the subject of wide legal criticism, because its members never took oath in the presence of the Speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC), and it was created within the current Palestinian political division with members of a single political faction.[3] This impression was reinforced by the HCC conduct with decisions that favored expanding the President’s authorities, such as granting him authority to lift parliamentary immunity on 06 November 2016[4], and dissolving the PLC in complicity with the President on 12 December 2018[5]. As such, it is evident that the Palestinian executive is moving towards imposing complete control over all branches of the judiciary, giving the Palestinian President supreme power, as is the case in the HCC.

PCHR reiterates that it attempted to protect judicial independence in 2005 when it appealed against the 2005 Judicial Authority Law, which was introduced shortly after the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas took office and aimed to enhance the Ministry of Justice’s powers at the expense of the HJC.[6]

The Supreme Court, in its constitutional capacity, decided to drop the new law and maintain the Judicial Authority Law No. (1) of 2002; thus, reinforcing two main principles: a. the imperative consultation with the judicial authority before enacting relevant laws; and b. the independence of the judiciary.

The timing and nature of the 2005 Judicial Authority Law, reflects the early intentions of the executive authority to control the Judiciary and refutes its allegations that the most recent laws by decree were part of a reform process.

This step comes after the Palestinian President usurped legislative authority by dissolving the already absented PLC. Rather than prioritizing ending the Palestinian political division and holding presidential and legislative elections, the Palestinian Authority reinforces it with legislations only applicable in the West Bank.

It also extends presidential powers, making it a de facto substitute to all three branches of government. This trend proves that the HCC is a mere façade and its decisions are designed to facitiliate executive outreach.

The decrees in question were issued only a few months after dissolving the PLC. The latter was authorized by the HCC’s in a decision that was deemed controversial due to the deficient reasoning, and doubts over the Court’s own legitimacy[7]. Therefore, PCHR considered the dissolution of the PLC to be political par excellence. PCHR also condemned the HCC’s position, and considered it an outreach of its jurisdiction, and an interference in the legislative authority in complicity with the executive branch.

Furthermore, in its decision to dissolve the PLC, the HCC contradicted its former decision pertaining to the legitimacy of the PLC’s extended term. Therefore, PCHR affirms that these laws by decree are part of a systematic policy to control the three authorities and pave the way for power absolutism.

The allegation that the problem of the Palestinian judiciary is about current laws or judges is a lie, and an attempt to control the judiciary under the pretext of reform. PCHR considers that true reform starts by ending the executive authority’s interference in the judicial authority as it weaknesses were never in the Judicial Authority Law. Hence, PCHR demands that the President retract his decisions.

(Source / 23.07.2019) 

UN: ISRAEL’S MASS DEMOLITION OPERATION IN WADU HUMMUS ‘NOT COMPATIBLE’ WITH INTERNATIONAL HUMANITARIAN LAW

United Nations (QNN)- Three top United Nations officials issued on Monday a statement underscoring that the Israeli mass demolition and displacement operation was “not compatible” with its “obligations under international humanitarian law”.

Israel’s Supreme Court has reportedly ruled that the houses were built “too close” to the apartheid wall in the occupied West Bank, a new pretext to demolish the houses and allow Israel occupy more land and ethnically cleanse indigenous people.

In 2004, the International Court of Justice (ICJ), ruled against constructing the Israeli Barrier and found that the parts running inside the West Bank, including East Jerusalem – including the Sur Bahir homes – “cannot be justified by military exigencies and thus violates Israel’s obligations under international law”, said the statement.

Moreover, in a resolution of 20 July 2004, the UN General Assembly, demanded that Israel comply with its legal obligations as stated in the ICJ’s advisory opinion.

“Had there been concrete action to ensure respect for these principles, and for international humanitarian and human rights law, generally, the people of Sur Bahir would not be experiencing the trauma they are today, and violations of their rights”, the statement concluded

The statement also warned that the Israeli operation “results in forced evictions, and contributes to the risk of forcible transfer facing many Palestinians in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem”.

“Among those forcibly displaced or otherwise impacted are Palestine refugees, some of whom today are facing the reality of a second displacement in living memory”, the UN officials flagged.

An army of Israeli forces and bulldozers broke into Wadi Hummus on early hours of Monday while it was still dark, and demolished 100 residential houses, displacing over 1000 Palestinians.

Although the community is under PA control, Israel has stolen it when it built the apartheid wall, dividing Sour Baher village and its residents into 2 parts.

(Source / 23.07.2019) 

‘ISRAEL’ DEMOLISHES ARAQEEB COMMUNITY FOR THE 146TH TIME

Occupied Negev (QNN)- Israeli bulldozers and forces raided on the early morning of Monday the Araqeeb community in occupied Negev and demolished it for the 146th time, displacing its Bedouin residents, according to Arab 48.

Residents of the community said that Israeli police broke into the community and started demolishing houses and tents, leaving them homeless. Members of Yoav unit also chased locals and issued parking tickets against all vehicles in the village.

The Araqeeb Bedouin was first demolished in 2010, and since then, Israeli authorities have fought the village’s Palestinian Bedouin citizens with repeated demolitions, prosecutions, and fines.

The village was last destroyed on 27 June.

Thousands of Palestinian Bedouin citizens live in so-called ‘unrecognised villages’, which Israeli authorities refuse to regularise and grant basic services.

(Source / 23.07.2019)