Israel plans new law to ban Palestinians from Jerusalem

Israeli soldiers aim their weapons towards Palestinian protestors just outside of Nablus. (AFP)
Updated 20 February 2018
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Israel plans new law to ban Palestinians from Jerusalem

AMMAN: A proposed new law will give Israel wider powers to strip Palestinians of their right to live in occupied East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights.
The legislation follows earlier attempts to remove social security benefits and family reunification rights from Palestinians in Jerusalem. “This time they are going after the right to residency,” Sani Khoury, a lawyer in Jerusalem, told Arab News.
The draft law approved by the Israeli parliament’s legislative committee allows the government to withdraw residency from any Palestinian deemed by Israel to be “involved in terrorism,” whether they have been convicted of a crime or not.
Right-wing Knesset members appear to be in a race to see who can sponsor the most racist law against Palestinians, Khoury said. “Note that they did not withdraw social benefits or the residency rights of Yigal Amir, the killer of former prime minister Yitshaq Rabin.”
Israel annexed East Jerusalem in 1967 and the Golan Heights in 1980. People who live there may remain if they abide by certain Israeli administrative procedures.
Palestinians with permanent residency cannot lose their right to live in Jerusalem provided the city is the center of their lives, Hanna Issa, a lawyer in Jerusalem who specializes in international law, told Arab News. “But if they are away from Jerusalem for seven years, or if they get residency elsewhere, this right can be withdrawn.”
Even living in nearby Ramallah or Bethlehem constitutes not living in Jerusalem and can be used against Palestinians to withdraw their residency, Issa said.
The Association for Civil Rights in Israel has documented the cases of nearly 15,000 Palestinians in Jerusalem who have lost their residency rights because of these administrative orders.
The new draft law appears to be aimed at thwarting an attempt by four Palestinians from Jerusalem to have their administrative banishment from the city overturned by the Israeli Supreme Court.
The former Palestinian Minister for Jerusalem Affairs, Khaled Abu Arafeh, and three elected members of the Palestinian Legislative Council — Ahmad Ottwan, Mohammed Totah and Mohammad Abu Tier — were banned from Jerusalem shortly after the 2006 Palestinian legislative elections. Their crime, according to the Israeli prosecutor, was that by taking part in the elections on behalf of the pro-Hamas Islamists Change and Reform List, they showed that they were “not loyal to the state of Israel.”
The four men have been arrested three times since 2006, and are engaged in a legal battle to have the ban reversed.
Abu Arafeh lives in a temporary home in Ramallah, and has been unable to travel or attend family events in Jerusalem or elsewhere.
“My son is graduating from university this summer in Jordan and my daughter will graduate from high school in Jerusalem’s Beit Hanina neighborhood, and I will not be able to attend,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Israeli government has also approved a draft law punishing the Palestinian government for making payments to the families of prisoners and those who have died resisting occupation. The new law will cut tax revenues allocated to the Palestinians by the same amount as those payments. The Palestinian government has called the law “theft of Palestinian money.”


Tunisia arrests people smuggler after 87 drowned

Updated 22 June 2018
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Tunisia arrests people smuggler after 87 drowned

  • Tunisia on Friday arrested the main organiser of a migrant smuggling operation after at least 87 people drowned when their boat sank off the southern coast this month.
  • The boat sank off Kerkenna island from where it had set out. Dozens of people were rescued by the coastguard.

TUNIS: Tunisia on Friday arrested the main organiser of a migrant smuggling operation after at least 87 people drowned when their boat sank off the southern coast this month, the government said.
The boat sank off Kerkenna island from where it had set out. Dozens of people were rescued by the coastguard.
The Defence Ministry said the man was arrested on Friday along with another man described as his business partner, a military man, who was trying to take them out of Kerkenna in his car.
Prime Minister Youssef Chahed this month sacked Interior Minister Lotfi Brahem and 10 security officials for failing to stop the boat. Security forces have since cracked down on migrant smugglers in several parts of Tunisia.
"The security forces arrested the main organiser of the illegal immigration operation in Kerkenna," the Interior Ministry said.
His partner was a military man, according to the Defence Ministry. The men were not identified.
Human traffickers increasingly use Tunisia as a launch pad for migrants heading to Europe as Libya's coastguard, aided by armed groups, has tightened control.
Tunisia stopped about 6,000 migrants leaving its coast for Europe in the first five months of the year, a sharp increase from the few hundred prevented in the same period last year, an Interior Ministry official told Reuters.
The North African country is suffering a deep economic crisis since the toppling of autocrat Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali in 2011 threw Tunisia into turmoil with unemployment and inflation shooting up.