Instructions enable deportation of those violating tourist visas.
By DAN IZENBERG
In response to international criticism of two military orders that went into effect Tuesday dealing with so-called infiltrators living in the West Bank, the government launched an information campaign to convince critics that they had been introduced out of concern for Palestinian human rights.“The purpose of the [amended] orders is to IMPROVE [capital letters in the original] the current situation rather than worsen it,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor wrote. “Pursuant to the recommendations of the High Court, a joint judicial committee of Jewish and Arab judges will deliberate on each case of potential repatriation. The committee will make a decision within eight days of having a case brought before it.”Other points Palmor emphasized included the fact that anyone issued an expulsion order – or “repatriation order,” as he called it – was entitled to legal representation, and “that there is a minuscule number of individuals to whom the orders are pertinent, since in recent years, Israel has, as a concession to the Palestinians, allowed non-West Bank residents to register with the Civil Administration [for Judea and Samaria].”Palmor also wrote that “the order pertains to individuals who arrived in the West Bank as tourists and who have illicitly stayed beyond the validity date of their visa. Some are married to West Bank residents, and this is one of the considerations taken by the committee in its deliberations.”Other points raised by the Foreign Ministry in a separate document included that the orders “clarify the definition of illegal infiltration, providing that an individual in possession of a lawful certificate or permit to be present in the areas cannot be considered an unlawful resident. At the same time, it removes the restriction in the original order providing that illegal infiltration was only relevant in relation to infiltration from a limited list of countries.”Furthermore, unlike expulsion orders issued until now, the new ones will go into effect only 72 hours after they are issued, and the subject of the order may request an extension.Maj. Peter Lerner, IDF Central Command spokesman, told The Jerusalem Post that the only change created by the new orders was the establishment of a clear legal procedure that gave the subject of the order the chance to appeal before a tribunal instead of, as until now, the military commander who issued the order.Lerner said that over the past three years, there had been only 30-60 expulsions per year.“There will not be an increase in the volume as a result of the new orders,” he added.Hamoked – Center for the Defense of the Individual, which brought the new orders to public attention several days ago, warned that their wording was so loose that it could be interpreted in many ways, depending on the political views of the interpreter.For example, even if Lerner was sincere when he said there would be no increase in the numbers of deportations, the wording of the law made it possible to expel an inestimable number of West Bank residents, including even Palestinians born in the West Bank, Hamoked said.It added that one of the main differences between the original military order and the new ones was that the original definition of an infiltrator was one who entered the West Bank from a limited number of specific countries: Jordan, Syria, Egypt and Lebanon. According to the amended orders, anyone living in the West Bank without a residential permit issued by the military commander or the Interior Ministry is, by definition, an infiltrator.Hamoked said the government explanations of the law failed to mentionthat since 2000, Israel had frozen the process of naturalization, thuspreventing anyone who moved there, particularly those who marriedPalestinians and established their families in the West Bank, fromobtaining legal status. In 2007, the government made a one-time gestureto foreign citizens who were living in the West Bank and granted themresidential status.According to Hamoked, the gesture did notinclude Palestinians from the Gaza Strip living in the West Bank,although until 2000, Palestinians could move freely between Gaza andthe West Bank and live in either one without a permit.Hamokedsaid it feared that what lay behind the law was the government’sintention to expel every Palestinian whose identity card listed him asliving in Gaza, no matter how long he had lived in the West Bank.Israel has refused for several years to register Palestinians who movedto the West Bank from Gaza as living in the former.
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