Knesset Roundup | January 7

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Another Week, Another Anti-NGO Bill

Non-Profit Organizations Law (Amendment – Qualifications to Registration) – 2013

Ministerial Committee for Legislative Affairs

Sunday, 29/12/2013 | Committee Discussion

 

ACRI’s Position: According to this bill, it would be possible to prevent the registration of NGOs whose aims and purposes run contrary to the definition of Israel as a “Jewish and democratic state.”
 
Criticism, protest, defence of freedom from religious coercion, promotion of religious pluralism, the struggle for equal rights, protection of minorities’ human rights – all these are activities that might be interpreted as denying the Jewish character of the state of Israel, and could therefore be invalidated under the bill.
 
Following other similar bills promoted in the Knesset in 2013, this bill appears to be an attempt to persecute certain political groups whose outlook is inconsistent with the prevailing political majority. If this bill is passed, Israel will join a dubious list of countries in which there is no freedom of activity for civil society organizations. It is a condition of being a democratic country that the state allow the expression of a pluralism of opinions without fear of censure or punishment.
 
For more information on this latest anti-NGO bill, click here.
 
Update: Despite the submission of this bill and its appearance on the agenda, the bill was not discussed at Sunday’s committee meeting and is yet to re-appear on an upcoming agenda.

Arrests and Detentions of Minors in the Occupied Territories and in East Jerusalem

 

Public Petitions Committee

Tuesday, 31/12/2013 | Committee Discussion

 

ACRI’s Position: For many years ACRI has worked to defend the rights of Palestinian children within criminal proceedings in the Occupied Palestinian Territories – during their detention, arrest, interrogation, trial and imprisonment. Positive changes have been made to the military legislation that that touches upon these issues over the last few years, yet there are still serious deficiencies that lead to the serious and systematic violation of the rights of minors in the military legal system.
 
Israeli children living in Jewish settlements in the West Bank are subjected to Israeli criminal legislation and are tried in civilian courts in Israel. By contrast, Palestinian minors living in the same territory are subjected to harsher military justice. Following an ACRI petition to the High Court of justice, some of the positive changes that were adopted included the establishment of a Military Juvenile Court, raising the age of maturity from 16 to 18 and shortening detention periods for both Palestinians adults and minors. However a significant disparity still exists between the standard of protections applied to Palestinian minors living in the Occupied Territories and the standards demanded by international law.
 
East Jerusalem: In 2013, approximately 1,200 people were arrested in East Jerusalem for throwing stones, the majority of whom were minors. According to the Youth Law, minors are entitled to special protections during arrest, detention and interrogation, yet it has become clear that these rights are not applied in practice to Palestinian minors in East Jerusalem. There are far-reaching mental and behavioral consequences if the arrests of minors are conducted in violation of the law. It is the duty of the police to treat children with sensitivity in recognition of their age, their physical and emotional development and the social implications that result from initial contacts with law enforcement agencies.
 
For more information on detention periods for Palestinian minors, click here.

The Begin-Prawer Plan Progresses

 

Bill for the Regulation of Bedouin Settlement in the Negev – 2013

Interior Affairs and Environment Committee

Monday, 30/12/2013 | Preparation for a Second and Third Reading

 

ACRI’s Position: While the declared aim of the bill is the regulation of Bedouin settlement in the Negev, the discriminatory policy ignores the reality on the ground, violates the land rights of the Bedouin population and imposes a unilateral and unacceptable framework that would lead to a the displacement of tens of thousands of people from their homes.
 
The Interior Committee is continuing to read through the bill before it is brought to a vote. This week the committee will focus on paragraphs 11-24 (section 3), which deals with the status of two new unique administrative bodies: the Compensation Committee and the Advisory Committee for Appointing the Chairman of the Compensation Committee. The Compensation Committee will be responsible for determining all aspects of the Bedouin land claims and deciding what compensation, if any, will be granted. As with other mechanisms created by this bill, this committee would operate with a broad jurisdiction and with no Bedouin or public representation. ACRI believes that this is a one-sided and harmful structure, and that it would be preferable rather to engage directly with the Bedouin people and enter into a dialogue that could bring about a just and negotiated settlement.
 
For more information on the Begin/Prawer plan and ACRI’s efforts to confront this injustice, click here.

In the Spotlight:

 

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Day 2 of African asylum seeker protest: What do they want?

Monday, January 6

 

“African asylum seekers are holding their second of a three-day national protest. On Monday, thousands of asylum seekers, most of whom are employed by hotels and restaurants, went on strike and held large rallies in front of Western and African embassies.
 
The protesters are calling on the international community to make sure Israel respects its commitments under the UN Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, thus ensuring that the Israeli government ceases rounding up and imprisoning asylum seekers without trial, and that it releases inmates already held under the revised anti-infiltration bill.”
 

 

As a result of the large-scale protests, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees released a rare press release criticizing Israel’s policy on African migrants, in particular the new amendments to the country’s anti-infiltration law, which ACRI has petitioned the High Court of Justice to declare invalid.
 
For more information on the national protest, click here.

 

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Categories: East Jerusalem, Arab Citizens of Israel, Child Rights, Citizenship and Residency, Democracy and Civil Liberties, Negev Bedouins and Unrecognized Villages, Police and Security Guards, Refugees and Asylum-Seekers, The Occupied Territories, Use of Force

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