Arab anger over Israel’s ‘racist’ marriage law

Palestinians shop at a market in the old city of Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank. (AFP file photo)
Palestinians shop at a market in the old city of Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank. (AFP file photo)
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Updated 12 March 2022

Arab anger over Israel’s ‘racist’ marriage law

Palestinians shop at a market in the old city of Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank. (AFP file photo)
  • Israel says the law, which was first enacted during a Palestinian uprising, is needed for security

AMMAN: Israel has renewed a temporary law, dating back to 2003, that bars Israeli citizens from extending citizenship or even residency to Palestinian spouses from the occupied West Bank and Gaza.

In a 45-15 vote, the Knesset passed in the second and third reading the citizenship law that makes it next to impossible for the reunification of families even if one spouse is an Israeli citizen.

Critics view it as a racist measure aimed at maintaining the country’s Jewish majority. The law discriminates against Palestinians, and does not apply to Jewish settlers in the West Bank as they already have Israeli citizenship.

The Knesset failed to pass the law last summer because it did not have the support of left-wing and Arab members of the governing coalition.

The Haifa-based Mossawa Center said that the law discriminates against the rights of Palestinian citizens of Israel.

Jafar Farah, director of the center, told Arab News that this law would continue to cause pain to thousands of families.

“Imagine that a Jewish settler family is free to move and live on either side of the green line while this law will be discriminatory against Arab citizens of Israel married to West Bank or Gaza residents,” he said.

Jessica Montell, executive director of the HaMoked Center for the Defense of the Individual, plans to challenge the law in the Israeli High Court.

She told Arab News that the Knesset’s re-passage of the ban on Palestinian family unification was a sad day for equality and basic rights.

“Under the guise of security concerns, the law advances a demographic agenda, with particularly harsh implications for East Jerusalem Palestinians,” she said.

The law, which needs to be re-approved every year, also bars marriage with citizens of “enemy states,” including Lebanon and Iraq. But it is widely seen as targeting Palestinians, who have a vast number of spouses to whom the law applies.

The new legislation even includes a section declaring that the law aims “to protect Israel’s Jewish majority” and sets up quotas on permits approved for “exceptional humanitarian cases.”

It also empowers the Israeli interior minister to charge Palestinians married to Israelis with espionage or terrorism if they are caught traveling with their spouses.

Haifa-based Diana Butto, former legal advisor to the Palestinian negotiating team, told Arab News that racism is what has motivated the law’s approval.

“This law is meant to bar Palestinians from living a normal life with their loved ones and to further isolate Palestinians in Israel from the Arab world,” Butto said.

Ofer Zalzberg, Middle East program director at the Herbert Kelman Institute for Conflict Transformation, told Arab News that the nature of the ban stems from Israel’s reliance on security arguments.

“The ban underlines the absence of an Israeli immigration policy. Immigration policies can pursue a balance between the rights of couples seeking marriage and the state’s national character,” he said.

Botrus Mansour, a Nazareth-based lawyer, told Arab News that the exclusive and discriminatory approach against Palestinians continues despite the change in government and including an Arab party in the coalition.

“This derives from the urge to maintain Israel as a Jewish country and thus to strive to confront the demographic challenge. This is compatible with Israel’s approach to closing its doors in the face of refugees from Ukraine unless they are Jewish”" he said.

Rima Najjar, a Palestinian blogger and activist, told Arab News that the law exposes the Israeli fiction of being both a Jewish and, at the same time, democratic state.

“The Jewish supremacist nature of the Zionist state will never be eradicated through politics as usual in a racist, apartheid system. What is needed is a radical path,” she said.

Yousef Munayyer a nonresident senior fellow at the Arab Center, Washington DC, told Arab News that the reinstitution of a blatantly racist law is a message to the world from Israel that “all of the human rights groups who have been decrying its Apartheid policies are absolutely correct.”

Some Israeli lawmakers, though, tried to justify the law.

“I pass the law with a heavy heart and without joy. I would like to get to a point where we do not need this law … but in the current security reality, we can do nothing but defend ourselves,” said Knesset member Ram Ben Barak from the Yesh Atid group.


Port director general dismissed after Aqaba investigation findings of deadly gas leak

Port director general dismissed after Aqaba investigation findings of deadly gas leak
Updated 25 sec ago

Port director general dismissed after Aqaba investigation findings of deadly gas leak

Port director general dismissed after Aqaba investigation findings of deadly gas leak

Jordanian Prime Minister, Bishr al-Khasawneh, said on Sunday that the Director General of the Ports Management and Operations Company and a group of officials in the company have been dismissed due to findings of the Aqaba gas leak incident. 

Thirteen people were killed, including at least four Asian migrants, when toxic chlorine gas escaped on the dockside in the Jordanian Red Sea port of Aqaba last week.

The Director General of the Maritime Authority has also been dismissed following the report's findings. 

Khasawneh said that the Aqaba incident report, in all its details, will be referred to the Public Prosecution. 

He added that the investigation found major "inability and failure in safety procedures and dealing with hazardous materials in the port."

The results of the investigation will be announced with full transparency to public opinion.

 


Shark attack kills two women in Egypt’s Red Sea: ministry

Shark attack kills two women in Egypt’s Red Sea: ministry
Updated 51 min 46 sec ago

Shark attack kills two women in Egypt’s Red Sea: ministry

Shark attack kills two women in Egypt’s Red Sea: ministry
  • All beaches in the area have been closed down

CAIRO: Two women were killed in a shark attack in a resort town on Egypt’s Red Sea coast, the environment ministry said Sunday, after video said to be of one attack emerged.
“Two women were attacked by a shark while swimming” in the Sahl Hasheesh area south of Hurghada, the Egyptian ministry said on Facebook, adding that they had both died.
The statement did not provide any detail on their identities.
But Red Sea governor Amr Hanafi had ordered on Friday the closure of all beaches in the area for three days after “an Austrian tourist had her left arm torn off, seemingly in a shark attack.”
Social media users on Friday had shared a video — the authenticity, date and location of which AFP could not independently verify — showing a swimmer struggling before what appeared to be a pool of blood emerged around her.
A task force is working to “identify the scientific causes and circumstances of the attack” and determine “the reasons behind the shark’s behavior that resulted in the incident,” the environment ministry said.
The Red Sea is a popular tourist destination, where sharks are common but rarely attack people swimming within authorized limits.
In 2018, a Czech tourist was killed by a shark off a Red Sea beach. A similar attack killed a German tourist in 2015.
In 2010, a spate of five attacks in five days unusually close to the shore of tourist hotspot Sharm el-Sheikh killed one German and injured four other foreign tourists.
Egypt is currently struggling to overcome rising inflation and a recent currency depreciation.
The country relies heavily on tourism revenues from the Red Sea, which accounts for some 65 percent of tourists visiting the country.
The tourism industry has been battered by successive blows over the past decade, including the country’s 2011 uprising, ensuing unrest and the coronavirus pandemic.


Iran purges security apparatus amid Israeli espionage fears

Iran purges security apparatus amid Israeli espionage fears
Updated 03 July 2022

Iran purges security apparatus amid Israeli espionage fears

Iran purges security apparatus amid Israeli espionage fears
  • IRGC intelligence chief sacked after assassinations, document leaks embarrass regime

LONDON: The Iranian regime has purged senior leaders in its security apparatus, including a general in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, amid fears that Israeli espionage has caused a recent spate of blunders and assassinations, the Telegraph reported.

The British daily said a senior general in the IRGC had been arrested on suspicion of spying for Israel a week after the corps’ intelligence boss Hossein Taeb lost his job. 

Taeb was fired after several embarrassing security blunders, with Israeli officials describing the Iranian regime as “shocked” and “rattled.”

Israel scuppered an Iranian plot to kill Israelis in Turkey, publicly warning its citizens of an imminent attack and arresting several people allegedly linked with IRGC cells.

In May, Israel published a collection of Iranian documents that detailed threats to its nuclear program.

More recently — and most troublingly for the regime — two nuclear scientists were poisoned and killed at separate dinner parties, which Tehran suspects was carried out by Israel.

Israeli officials told the Telegraph that the recent mixture of information and attacking operations were part of a strategy called the “Octopus doctrine,” which compares the regime’s leadership to the head of an octopus and its various proxies and forces — such as Hezbollah in Lebanon and the IRGC across the region — as the tentacles.

But rather than limiting the effect of those tentacles, Israeli forces are now shifting to directly striking the head of the beast.

“The Iranians saw all of that information released by Israel as a huge slap in the face. And they were shocked. They were rattled by it,” an Israeli security official told the Telegraph, adding that the doctrine “has proven to be effective. It has caused shockwaves throughout the leadership of Iran.” 

Iran analysts told the Telegraph that Taeb was a major figure in Tehran’s leadership, enjoying a close relationship with Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

“His unceremonious sacking heralds more political purges within the regime as it faces growing domestic discontent and challenges to its regional policy,” said Dr. Reza Taghizade, a London-based Iran observer.

Dr. Kylie Moore-Gilbert, an Australian-British academic and former hostage of the regime, said Taeb was referred to as “The Judge” because he observed interrogation and hostage practices.

“Most theories for Taeb’s removal are due to IRGC Intel’s inability to prevent Israel from operating inside Iran’s borders, including conducting high-profile assassinations,” said Moore-Gilbert. 

“The IRGC Intelligence Organization is not a professional intelligence agency, its members are recruited on the basis of ideological and religious affiliation, and everything is kept ‘in the family’ — you have to have contacts and already know people on the inside in order to get a foot in the door,” she added.

“As a result, many of its operatives are incompetent and poorly skilled for the job. Many of them lack a security mindset or a proper understanding of the conduct of espionage.”


Israel says it will test bullet that killed reporter, Palestinians disagree

Israel says it will test bullet that killed reporter, Palestinians disagree
Updated 03 July 2022

Israel says it will test bullet that killed reporter, Palestinians disagree

Israel says it will test bullet that killed reporter, Palestinians disagree

JERUSALEM/RAMALLAH: Israel said on Sunday it would test a bullet that killed a Palestinian-American journalist to determine whether one of its soldiers shot her and said a US observer would be present for the procedure that could deliver results within hours.
The Palestinians, who on Saturday handed over the bullet to a US security coordinator, said they had been assured that Israel would not take part in the ballistics.
Washington has yet to comment. The United States has a holiday weekend to mark July 4.
The May 11 death of Al Jazeera reporter Shireen Abu Akleh during an Israeli raid in the occupied West Bank, and feuding between the sides as to the circumstances, have overshadowed a visit by US President Joe Biden due this month.
The Palestinians accuse the Israeli military of killing her deliberately. Israel denies this, saying Abu Akleh may have been hit by errant army fire or by one of the Palestinian gunmen who were clashing with its forces.
“The (ballistic) test will not be American. The test will be an Israeli test, with an American presence throughout,” said Israeli military spokesman Brig.-General Ran Kochav.
“In the coming days or hours it will be become clear whether it was even us who killed her, accidentally, or whether it was the Palestinian gunmen,” he told Army Radio. “If we killed her, we will take responsibility and feel regret for what happened.”
Akram Al-Khatib, general prosecutor for the Palestinian Authority, said the test would take place at the US Embassy in Jerusalem.
“We got guarantees from the American coordinator that the examination will be conducted by them and that the Israeli side will not take part,” Al-Khatib told Voice of Palestine radio, adding that he expected the bullet to be returned on Sunday.
An embassy spokesperson said: “We don’t have anything new at this time.”
Biden is expected to hold separate meetings with Palestinian and Israeli leaders on July 13-16. The Abu Akleh case will be a diplomatic and domestic test for new Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid.
Israeli Deputy Internal Security Minister Yoav Segalovitz said Lapid had been involved in “managing the arrival and transfer of this bullet.”
“It will take a few days to conduct a ballistic test, with several experts, to ensure that there is an unequivocal assessment,” Segalovitz told Army Radio.


Tunisian constitution committee head blasts president’s latest draft

Sadok Belaid submitting a draft of the new constitution to President Kais Saied (L) in Tunis. (AFP file photo)
Sadok Belaid submitting a draft of the new constitution to President Kais Saied (L) in Tunis. (AFP file photo)
Updated 03 July 2022

Tunisian constitution committee head blasts president’s latest draft

Sadok Belaid submitting a draft of the new constitution to President Kais Saied (L) in Tunis. (AFP file photo)
  • Belaid said the final constitution published by the president contains chapters that could pave the way for “a disgraceful dictatorial regime”

TUNIS: The head of Tunisia’s constitution committee blasted the proposed constitution published by President Kais Saied this week, local Assabeh newspapers reported on Sunday.
Sadok Belaid, a former constitutional law professor was named by Saied to draft a “new constitution for new republic,” said Saied’s version was dangerous and did not resemble the first draft proposed by the constitution committee.
Belaid said the final constitution published by the president contains chapters that could pave the way for “a disgraceful dictatorial regime.”
The president has not commented on the constitution since he published the text on Thursday in Tunisia’s official gazette. The constitution would give Saied far more powers and will be put to a referendum next month.