ACRI in the News: May – June 2013

ACRIinews

 

In this Edition:

 

 

ACRI Opposes Bedouin Displacement Plan

Panel to Discuss Law Regulating Bedouin Settlement (The Jerusalem Post)

 

May 5, 2013

 

The Ministerial Committee for Legislation is set to meet to consider a law meant to regulate Bedouin settlement building in the Negev.

 

Former Likud Minister, Benny Begin, proposed a plan for regulating the land of the Bedouin in 2012 and it has drawn opposition from both the right, who say that it is giving away too much and not solving the problem; and from the left who claim that it is not generous enough.

 

Government Bill Aims to Regulate Bedouin Settlement (The Times of Israel)

 

May 6, 2013

 

The Knesset Ministerial Committee on Legislation on Monday approved a bill that outlines the framework of government policies vis-à-vis the Bedouin population in the Negev, the evacuation of unrecognized villages and the ownership of land.

 

Draft Law Passed to Regulate Bedouin Settlement (The Jerusalem Post)

 

May 6, 2013

 

The Ministerial Committee for Legislation reviewed a draft law known as the Prawer-Begin plan for regulating Beduin settlement in the Negev.

 

The Jerusalem Post received a statement from the office of Bayit Yehudi MK Ayelet Shaked stating that the bill was passed after some changes were made to garner the support of those in opposition.

 

Knesset panel advances plan regulating Bedouin settlements (Jewish Journal)

 

May 6, 2013

 

In a news release criticizing the plan, The Association for Civil Rights in Israel said it would “cause the displacement and forced eviction of dozens of villages and tens of thousands of Bedouin residents, dispossessing them of their property and historical rights to their lands, destroying the social fabric of their communities, and sealing the fate of thousands of families into poverty and unemployment.”

 

Land Grab: Israeli Government Backs Bill to Forcibly Relocate Up to 40,000 Bedouin Villagers (RT News)

 

May 7, 2013

 

Under the Prawer-Begin plan, or ‘The Bill on the Arrangement of Bedouin Houses in the Negev,’ the Bedouin population will be relocated to officially recognized Bedouin towns such as Rahat, Khura and Ksayfe, and their current homes will be demolished.

 

Bedouin Leaders Mobilize Against Israeli Bill Meant to Relocate Communities (Haaretz)

 

May 9, 2013

 

The community’s leaders, who are trying to unify their ranks in the face of the bill, which they called discriminatory and said it would compel the Bedouin to move to centralized locations.

 

“The plan leaves us only 17 percent of the land under our ownership. I hope there won’t be violence although I see how the state is pressuring and pressuring the Bedouin and in the end [the community] will erupt,” Atiah al-Assasm, head of the Council of Unrecognized Villages, said.

 

Israel Demolishes Bedouin Village for 50th Time (Ma’an News Agency)

 

May 9, 2013

 

A large force of Israeli police raided al-Arakib as bulldozers demolished homes in the Negev village, said local landowner Aziz al-Tori.

 

“We confirmed that we will stay steadfast in our lands, despite the injustice and tyranny of the Israeli authority,” al-Tori told Ma’an. “We will rebuild our houses, even if they demolish them thousand times.”

 

State Destroys Illegal Bedouin Outpost for 50th Time (The Jerusalem Post)

 

May 12, 2013

 

Police demolished structures for the 50th time in two years at the former illegal Beduin village of al-Arakib in the Negev on Thursday, according to the Palestinian Ma’an News Agency.

 

The Jerusalem Post spoke with Toro last week in al-Arakib; he said he was born in the village and now lives in the cemetery, which was the only structure left standing.

 

Desert Divisions (The Jerusalem Post)

 

May 16, 2013

 

In an effort to understand the nuances involved, The Jerusalem Post reviewed documents and spoke to people involved in the issue. In essence, the Beduin and their supporters claim that the plan does not give them enough land, while opponents claim it is too generous.

 

Rawia Aburabia, a lawyer for the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, told the Post that the Prawer-Begin plan involves uprooting unrecognized villages, which would lead to the expulsion of around 40,000 Beduin from their homes.

 

Israel Looks to Fulfill Desert Dream with Negev Military Base (FT.com)

 

May 27, 2013

 

The facility, a training base for the Israel Defence Force, will also have an auditorium, three synagogues, shooting ranges, six basketball courts and a visitors’ park for swearing-in and handing-out ceremonies. When it is fully populated by the end of 2015, it will be home to 10,000 army personnel and 2,500 civilian staff.

 

“If we are talking about any [settlement] plans, whether it’s moving bases to the Negev or other plans, first the government should deal with the existing population,” says Rawia Aburabia, a lawyer based in Beer Sheva affiliated with the Association for Civil Rights in Israel. “The policies towards these citizens discriminate against them and aim to evict them.”

 

Negev Residents to Protest Forced Displacement Plan (Ma’an News Agency)

 

June 9, 2013

 

Arab and Bedouin residents in the Negev announced Sunday that they would be rallying against a legislative proposal to be put before the Knesset that would see the dismantling of unrecognized villages and the forced displacement of residents.

 

ACRI and Adalah, the legal center for Arab minority rights in Israel, formally submitted their reservations to the Plan in April 2012.

 

 

High Court Discusses Anti-Infiltration Amendment

No Hearings, Long Detention of Migrants is Legal (The Jerusalem Post)

 

May 15, 2013

 

Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein on late Monday night wrote to the High Court of Justice claiming that the Law to Prevent Infiltration and the state’s policy of placing certain African migrants in detention centers en masse for three years without a hearing does not violate their fundamental rights or international law.

 

The response by the state was required by a conditional order by the court issued on March 12 in which it demanded that the state defend the controversial law.

 

Rule of Law: Israel’s Legal Headache (The Jerusalem Post)

 

May 23, 2013

 

The answer you get regarding whether it is legal for Israel to throw them in detention centers in Saharonim detention center in the South for three years without standard legal proceedings (the goal being to “convince” them to “voluntarily” return “home”) depends entirely on how you phrase the question.

 

In responding to these latest claims, one of the lead lawyers on the petition before the High Court, Oded Feller of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel told The Jerusalem Post that essentially, the state was the party that was playing games with its international law claims – not the petitioners.

 

Israel Admits Asylum Bid Filed by Africans Still Pending, Despite Vowing ‘Swift’ Review (Haaretz)

 

May 29, 2013

 

Israel admitted this week that it has not finished examining a single one of the 1,404 asylum applications filed by migrants in the country’s detention centers. The state also told the High Court of Justice recently that most of these migrants are labor seekers, rather than refugees, despite having failed to complete a detailed investigation into their backgrounds.

 

Both of these statements were written in briefs filed in response to a petition against a new law that allows anyone who crosses the border illegally to be jailed for three years or more.

 

 

3rd State Agrees to Take Israel’s Eritrean Migrants (The Jerusalem Post)

 

June 2, 2013

 

A third country has agreed to absorb the majority of Eritrean migrants to be deported from Israel, it emerged during a hearing at the High Court on Sunday.

 

On March 12, the High Court issued a conditional order against the state regarding the amendment, demanding a response to the claim that it violates the fundamental rights of African migrants.

 

The order was given in response to a petition filed by six migrants’ rights organizations, including the Association of Civil Rights for Israel on its own behalf and on behalf of five Eritrean asylum-seekers, including a child, being held indefinitely in detention camps.

 

 

High Court to deliberate canceling Infiltration Prevention Law (Israel Hayom)

 

June 2, 2013

 

State Prosecutor Yochi Gensin said that the state would file a request with the High Court of Justice on Sunday allowing the deportation of thousands of illegal Eritrean migrants in Israel to a third-party country.

 

Gensin announced the state’s plans as the High Court deliberated a petition against a request to cancel an amendment to the Infiltration Prevention Law, which the Israeli Immigration Policy Center submitted, together with the South Tel Aviv Action Committee.

 

 

Treating Migrants in Israel Like Chattel (Haaretz)

 

June 3, 2013

 

As if it were an export company, the State of Israel is trying to ship tens of thousands of people from Eritrea and Sudan to other countries, out of sight and out of mind. The main thing is that they will fly away from here. Price isn’t particularly important nor is their fate in their new countries. Israeli imperviousness, the turning away from the distress of others, marks a new stage that is far from surprising. This is a natural progression from the systematic disregard for claims of asylum that were filed, to the embarrassing legal amendment that enabled the detainment in prison facilities and incitement bordering on dehumanization.

 

 

New Law to Limit Money Migrants Can Send Abroad (The Jerusalem Post)

 

June 4, 2013

 

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu praised a law that passed at the Knesset on Monday night, saying a ban on illegal foreign workers from taking their money out of Israel “is of great importance” for Israel.

 

NGOs and lawmakers criticized the bill, calling it a sign of Israel’s toughened stance on migrants, with the head of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees in Israel at the time William Tall saying he knew of no such precedent of a country determining what an asylum seeker can do with the money he earns.

 

 

Israel Deal to Deport African Immigrants (GulfNew.com)

 

June 5, 2013

 

Israel has struck a deal to deport up to 2,000 illegal Eritrean immigrants to an unnamed African country in return for supplying it with military aid, the Yediot Aharonot newspaper said on Wednesday.

 

The paper said that, under an agreement in principle, the country will take 1,500-2,000 Eritreans currently in Israel in exchange for military, technological and agricultural aid.

 

Analysis: Proposed law on deportations of migrants undermines human rights (Haaretz)

 

June 10, 2013

 

In last week’s High Court of Justice hearing on a petition challenging the amendment to the Prevention of Infiltration Law, which lets asylum seekers be held for three years without trial, state counsel Yochi Gnessin argued that Eritrean migrants were to be deported in an arrangement reached with an unnamed third country, and that deals with two other countries were pending.

 

While Gnessin had said in last week’s hearing that the process would be gradual, now it emerges that there is no concrete agreement, but “primary understandings” with an unknown country and negotiations with others.

 

 

ACRI Reports Poverty Statistics in East Jerusalem

80% of East Jerusalemites Live Below Poverty Line: NGO (AFP)

 

May 7, 2013

 

Almost 80 percent of “east Jerusalem residents live below the poverty line — the worst rate of all time,” the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) said in a report.

 

The study, which looked at the effects of Israeli policy on the “basic rights” of Palestinian residents, was published a day ahead of Jerusalem Day, when Israel marks the “reunification” of the city after it captured the Arab eastern sector during the 1967 Six-Day War.

 

Jerusalem: A City Divided (The Jerusalem Post)

 

May 8, 2013

 

On the eve of the capital’s 46th annual Jerusalem Day – held against a backdrop of disparate quality-of-life reports representing the western and eastern sides of Jerusalem – Jews and Arabs expressed matching pride and antipathy, respectively, about a city that clearly remains divided.

 

Indeed, while a Monday Central Bureau of Statistics report portrayed Jerusalem as a hotbed of economic and social growth, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel also released a study portraying east Jerusalem as a social and economic quagmire.

 

High Poverty Rate for Palestinians (Sky News)

 

May 8, 2013

 

Almost 80 per cent of east Jerusalem residents live below the poverty line according to the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, which describes it as the worst rate of all time.

 

Why I must—and can’t—celebrate Jerusalem Day (Haaretz)

 

May 8, 2013

 

The Jerusalem I don’t live in – but visit often, largely by dint of my work as a journalist – is not a normal city. How could it be, when more than a third of its residents are not citizens, don’t vote, and in many cases, don’t even speak the language of nation under whose sovereignty they live?

 

Jerusalem Day Needs a Makeover (Al-Monitor)

 

May 8, 2013

 

For the Arabs of East Jerusalem, who constitute some 36% of the city’s population (according to Interior Ministry data), Jerusalem Day is a day of defeat and humiliation.

 

The Palestinian residents, looking at the merrymakers from their homes and shops, get the clearest of messages regarding who controls the city and who is controlled.

 

Is this What God had in Mind for Jerusalem Day (The Daily Beast)

 

May 9, 2013

 

My building’s Arab gardener comes to work every morning from Shouafat, a refugee camp outside of Jerusalem where he’s lived for over 30 years. This morning, when I came back from my run, I said good morning and asked him what he thought of “al-Quds day.” He quickly corrected me: “Yom Yerushalayim,” he said. “Allah Kareem.” And in those four words, he had said it all: Jerusalem is a hot, complicated mess, but God is generous—and we should be too.

 

Holy City Divided on Jerusalem Day (Al-Monitor)

 

May 9, 2013

 

As the procession moved from Damascus Gate toward the Wailing Wall, hundreds of Israeli police officers and soldiers manned roadblocks, preventing Palestinians from getting in and out of the Old City and to their homes. Earlier in the day, prayers at the al-Aqsa Mosque were prohibited, and the grand mufti of Jerusalem was arrested by Israeli authorities for allegedly inciting disturbances near the holy site.

 

Government Bulldozers Demolish Two East Jerusalem Homes (The Jerusalem Post)

 

May 23, 2013

 

Government bulldozers demolished two residential buildings in east Jerusalem on Tuesday morning for being illegally constructed on a national park, the Interior Ministry said Wednesday.

 

However, Meretz city councilman Dr. Meir Margalit, who holds the east Jerusalem portfolio, dismissed the ministry’s claim as a “dirty trick” that the government was using to confiscate land from Palestinians under false pretenses.

 

Israel’s tax policies suffocate Palestinian Jerusalem (The Electronic Intifada)

 

May 28, 2013

 

“I only have this shop,” he said. “There is no other work. I’m tired.” Abed Ajloni, the owner of an antiques shop in the Old City, owes the Jerusalem municipality 250,000 shekels ($68,300) in taxes. He said that almost every day, the city’s tax collectors come into the Old City, accompanied by Israeli police and soldiers, to pressure people there to pay.

ACRI Opposes Controversial Counter-Terrorism Bill

 

 

Ministers Mull Bill Seeking to Crack Down on Terror (Israel Hayom)

 

June 9, 2013

 

The Ministerial Committee on Legislation is set to debate and vote on a new bill that would enable authorities to crack down on terror organizations targeting Israel or Israelis abroad. Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, who chairs the committee, supports the bill.

 

The Association for Civil Rights in Israel appealed to the committee over the weekend, warning that the bill’s current outline would infringe on the public’s civil rights.

 

Ministers Approve Upping Punishments for Terror (The Jerusalem Post)

 

June 9, 2013

 

The punishments for involvement in terror organizations and for anyone who supports, identifies or sympathizes with terror will be increased, according to a bill approved by the Ministerial Committee for Legislation Sunday.

 

The Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) panned the bill, saying it allows the government to take serious steps against people and organizations without a trial and without minimum guarantees that their rights will be defended.

 

Israeli Ministers Approve Controversial Bill to Increase Punishments for Terror (Xinhua English.news.cn)

 

June 10, 2013

 

An Israeli government panel voted Sunday to increase the punishments for individuals suspected of aiding militant organizations operating here and abroad or convicted of carrying out terror attacks.

 

The Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) considered the bill as “anti-democratic,” warning that its provisions could turn law-abiding people and organizations into “terrorists” solely based on suspicions.

 

East Jerusalem Still Lacks Basic Postal Services

High Court Criticizes East Jerusalem Postal Services (The Jerusalem Post)

 

June 13, 2013

 

The High Court of Justice on Thursday criticized the poor provision of postal services in Palestinian neighborhoods of Jerusalem, telling authorities that the process of improving these services “needs to be accelerated.”

 

According to ACRI, delivery of mail to homes in east Jerusalem is infrequent and severely delayed in some areas, and completely non-existent in others, with only nine post offices in east Jerusalem, compared to more than forty in west Jerusalem.

 

 

Where the postman rings twice (a week, if that) (Haaretz)

 

June 14, 2013

 

Khader Abu Sbitan is the mukhtar of A-Tur, an East Jerusalem neighborhood of nearly 23,000 residents. There, the local post office is so tiny and crowded that on certain days of the month, when people need to pay bills or receive payments, the line stretches out the door and up the road.

 

“Why should I spend an hour driving around to get my mail, paying for parking, when other people get it for free?” asks Mahmoud Qaraeen, a field worker for ACRI who lives in Silwan. “It’s a basic thing. I pay all of my city taxes just like everyone else, but we don’t get basic service. It just seems that they’re not interested in improving things in East Jerusalem.”

 

Netanyahu to Release Date on Security Wiretaps

 

 

Netanyahu Refuses to Reveal Data on Security Wiretaps Approved by PM’s Office (Haaretz)

 

June 9, 2013

 

In the shadow of the storm surrounding the National Security Agency’s collection of intelligence on Americans’ phone calls, it turns out that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s bureau has refused to provide figures of the number of security wiretaps conducted by Israel’s Shin Bet security service over the past five years, following a request by an Israeli NGO.

 

In May 2012, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel requested information from the Prime Minister’s Bureau, which is responsible for approving security wiretaps, for data.

 

 

Security Needs vs. Democratic Rights (The Jerusalem Post)

 

June 10, 2013

 

But how can governments use technological advances to protect democratic societies from terrorism without in the process undermining the very democracy which they set out to protect?

 

In Israel too the same honest and open discourse should be conducted on how best to balance democratic values such as liberty and freedom from government intrusion with the need to protect ourselves from those who would, if given the opportunity, take advantage of the freedoms they enjoy to undermine open society.

 

Israelis to Americans: Get Used to Being Spied On (Israel Today)

 

June 10, 2013

 

As Israelis watch the unfolding Internet spying scandal in the US, the local response has been fairly unanimous: We’re used to it, and Americans should probably get used to it, as well.

 

A year earlier, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel had filed a lawsuit against the government and the compliant companies, demanding an end to unchecked surveillance of personal communications. The courts threw the case out, prompting the government to seek even broader powers.

 

Israeli Police Illegally Collect Migrant DNA

 

 

Israel Police Skirt Law, Create Migrant DNA Database (Haaretz)

 

May 2, 2013

 

Police have been collecting for over a year now the DNA of African migrants who cross into Israel from Egypt and are incarcerated at the Negev’s Saharonim detention facility.

 

Attorney Lila Margalit of the Association of Civil Rights in Israel said: “The legal authority to take DNA samples from a suspect when not required for a specific investigation seriously invades the privacy, dignity, and right to a presumption of innocence.”

 

Israel has collected some 1,000 DNA samples from African migrants, but denies creating database (Haaretz)

 

May 8, 2013

 

Alva Kolan of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel criticized the police: “This is a cynical use of the Prevention of Infiltration Law, and squarely contradicts the International Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, which explicitly states that infiltration, in itself, cannot be considered a criminal offense. The Prevention of Infiltration Law is cynically exploited to incriminate a specific population.”

 

Court Backs Arab Residents in Land Dispute

 

 

Israeli Court Back Arab Residents in Land Dispute (The National)

 

June 11, 2013

 

 

The long-neglected land is the coveted prize in a months-long battle between Israeli planning authorities, who want it for a police station, and residents of the overcrowded adjacent Arab-Israeli neighborhood of Kerem Al Tufaah, who say they desperately need the space for new homes.

 

Late last week, the neighborhood achieved a significant victory in a legal challenge to the police-station plan that lawyers said could help to fight widespread discrimination against Arabs on construction issues.

 



Ben Gurion Airport to Make Security Changes

 

 

Ben Gurion Airport Set to Automate Luggage Security (The Times of Israel)

 

June 5, 2013

 

The new method was also touted as a solution to ease travel for Arab passengers, who have long complained that because their luggage is always extensively searched by hand, they are forced to arrive earlier for flights.

 

“It won’t eliminate the experiences of Arab citizens at the airport, but there is no doubt that it is an important and significant step to bring change,” Nasrin Alian, of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, told Channel 2.

 

Spotlight on Racism in Amusement Park

 

 

Amusement Park Discrimination May Be Tip of Iceberg in Israel (The Jewish Daily Forward)

 

June 10, 2013

 

Politicians have voiced outrage following revelations that an amusement park in central Israel segregated students from Jewish and Arab schools by having them attend on separate days. But civil rights activists say this discrimination is more common than many realize.

 

ACRI Calls for Action Against “Price Tag” Violence

 

 

ACRI: Protect Palestinians from Settler Violence (The Jerusalem Post)

 

June 11, 2013

 

Ahead of Wednesday’s hearing on “price tag” incidents in the Knesset’s Interior Committee, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) called on committee members to demand that the state comptroller and relevant authorities to “take responsibility” and carry out a comprehensive analysis of the deployments of security forces to protect Palestinians and their property in the West Bank.

 

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