Located at the European University Institute (EUI), the Robert Schuman Center for Advanced Studies (RSCAS) conducts ‘inter-disciplinary and comparative research (on) major issues facing the process of integration and European society.’Prepared by Asem Khalil, its new report is titled, ‘Impact of Israeli Military Order No. 1650 on Palestinians’ Rights to Legally Reside in Their Own Country.’
Taking effect in April 2010, it defined all West Bank residents as ‘infiltrators’ (including native born ones), requiring they get IDF-issued permits.
Order No. 1650 (Prevention of Infiltration) and Order No. 1949 (Security Provisions) were issued in October 2009 as amendments to a 1969 Order No. 329 (Order regarding Prevention of Infiltration), declaring ‘infiltrator’ state enemies from Jordan, Syria, Egypt and Lebanon would be imprisoned and/or deported.
Potentially, all West Bank and East Jerusalemites risk dispossession and expulsion, part of Israel’s longstanding policy to seize all parts of Palestine it wishes, removing indigenous Arabs from their homeland illegally, controlling those remaining under an oppressive apartheid system critics call worse than South Africa’s with good reason.
It’s a sophisticated form of social, economic, political and racial discrimination, strangulation, and genocide, incorporating the worst elements of colonialism and apartheid as well as repressive dispossession, displacement, and state terrorism to separate Palestinians from their land and heritage, deny them their civil and human rights, and gradually remove or eliminate them altogether.
Apartheid is the worst form of racism, Israel’s militarized occupation its most extreme form, incorporating violence, military incursions, land theft, home demolitions, targeted assassinations, indiscriminate murder, mass arrests, torture, destruction of agricultural land, and isolation – measures amounting to slow-motion genocide, including suffocating Gazans under siege.
Military Order No. 1650 amended Order No. 329 (1969), the latter’s 10 sections including sentencing armed and unarmed infiltrators, deporting them, evidence, unlawful stay after permit expirations, and obtaining them under false pretenses.
Order 1650 has nine sections, updating nearly all of Order 329, the latter defining an infiltrator as ‘a person who entered the Area knowingly and unlawfully after having been present (on) the east bank of the Jordan, Syria, Egypt or Lebanon following the effective date.’
The new order calls an infiltrator ‘a person who entered the Area unlawfully following the effective date, or a person who is present in the Area and does not lawfully hold a permit.’
Since ‘knowingly’ no longer applies, document irregularities make anyone an infiltrator, subject to expulsion, fines or imprisonment, Israel potentially criminalizing hundreds of thousands of Palestinians as illegals in their home country, unimaginable virtually anywhere else in the world. The new Order corrupts the rule of law, placing all Palestinians at risk. Specifically:
— any Palestinian without an IDF-issued permit is presumed to be an infiltrator;
— the order’s language is broad and vague, giving the military wide discretion;
— this action was handled secretly;
— it violates Fourth Geneva’s Article 49 prohibiting:
‘Individual or mass forcible transfers, as well as deportations of protected persons from occupied territory to the territory of the Occupying Power or to that of any other country….’
— the military may prosecute, imprison, and/or deport anyone called an infiltrator without judicial review;
— deportations may be executed within 72 hours of order issuances or sooner, and those affected may be imprisoned until deported;
— individuals first affected may be Palestinians Israel wishes to transfer to Gaza, even those born in the West Bank or legally relocated there;
— foreign passport-holding spouses of West Bank residents abroad are likely to be targeted; tens of thousands are affected;
— foreign nationals called infiltrators may be jailed for up to seven years; and
— potentially the entire West Bank/East Jerusalem population is vulnerable.
Regulating Residency Status
The term ‘resident’ was first used in Military Order No. 65 on August 18, 1967, referring to those having permanent residency in the ‘Area.’ Subsequent Orders applied the term to permanent residents ‘legally’ present, dependent on their having been counted in the September 1967 census. Others became immediately ‘illegal’ for lacking lawful documentation. Henceforth to stay, they needed permits and Israeli authorization to work and engage in commercial activities. As a result, many Palestinians were fined, imprisoned or deported.
Those registered (counted) became candidates for ID numbers, strictly regulated by other Orders, including No. 297 (1969), requiring ‘males over 16 years old’ have an ID card always on their presence to show on demand. Females over 16 were ‘permitted’ to request them.
As later amended, they contained name, address, date of birth, gender, religion, nationality, spouse’s name, names and gender of children, and their dates of birth. Order 1206 (1987) issued ID cards to children at birth, their registration linked to mothers, not fathers, perhaps for the greater chance that they were non-residents so authorities could deport them with their parent, Israel having final say. As a result, many children of non-resident parents may be denied registration at the whim of the official in charge.
Regulating Population Access and Exit
In 1967, Palestinians living outside Occupied Palestine and those who fled, can’t return, the determinant being residency based on Israel’s census. Those counted can stay. Others cannot without prior authorization. Those there ‘illegally’ became aliens in their own land, hundreds of thousands displaced (called nazeheen) as a result.
Consider Israel’s logic:
— Area residents can be readmitted through borders;
— qualifying requires being counted in Israel’s census; yet
— to be included depended on Area residency at the time it was taken.
Those absent lost it and couldn’t return to be counted and registered. As a result, many became stateless. Luckier ones got temporary legal stays abroad, then became unlawful once their authorization expired, yet couldn’t return to Palestine.
‘Stateless Palestinians, Palestinian refugees, and those denied reentry became ‘illegal’ and ‘unlawful’ – and accordingly undesired – wherever they found themselves, no matter what they did.’
Thereafter, their very existence became suspect, whether in host countries or the Territories. They were trapped in a no man’s land of illegitimacy. Even ‘legal’ residents weren’t secure, their status dependent on satisfying whatever conditions Israel imposed.
Residency alone doesn’t assure legal status; that is, the ‘right to have rights,’ what citizens of other countries enjoy. Israeli military orders explicitly state what non-residents cannot do without authorization. For example, they can’t open, manage or work in any commercial activity with permit permission, ‘implying what Israel will tolerate residents doing without prior authorization. The fact that they are able to do certain things means that their freedom is not a right.’ Rather, it’s what authorities grant.
As a result, restrictions may be imposed at any time for any reason, ‘even without the explicit suspension of the margins of actions tolerated for legal residents.’ For Palestinians, status isn’t an entitlement or a right, making them vulnerable to lose residency at the whim of Israeli officials, what happened to many for ‘political’ or ‘security’ reasons. Others were denied reentry when they exceeded their alloted time abroad abroad or if their travel document expired while there.
Departure through Israel’s airport requires a ‘Laissez Passer,’ requiring renewal within a year. Otherwise residency status is automatically revoked. Palestinians exiting through Jordan’s Allenby Bridge crossing faced the same fate if staying abroad more than six years.
After the Oslo Accords, Palestinians could get a Palestinian Authority (PA) travel document, valid for three years. However, thousands who lost their ID cards before Oslo were considered non-residents, prohibited from entering the Area without (Israeli-issued) permits as visitors, or in some cases, a newly issued ID number if family unification was granted.
As occupier, Israel holds ‘supreme power’ over borders and internal movement, for both residents and non-residents alike.
Those not ‘legally’ registered can only obtain residency status through family unification, what’s extremely hard to get. Otherwise, they need visitor permits for temporary stays, filed indirectly through relatives. Affected persons include:
— Palestinians present but not counted in the 1967 census;
— those the war displaced;
— those outside the Area at the time;
— those whose residency was revoked for overstaying a trip abroad;
— children of residents not duly registered; and
— children of non-resident mothers born between 1987 and 1995.
In all cases, Israel has full authority to grant or deny unifications for any reason. Residency is a privilege, not a right. Even granted, it can be revoked at any time for any reason, Palestinians having no rights in their own land.
Because of restrictive policies and changed rules over time, the number of families affected is high, the largest group being those where one spouse is a non-resident and needs permission to live with the other. At all times, Israel minimizes approvals for political or security reasons, its real agenda to control population growth and reduce it.
Even successful family unifications are complex, long and costly, discouraging many from applying. To enter Occupied Palestine requires temporary visitor permits, granted for three months and requiring renewal. Whenever visitors overstay, they’re illegal, subject to expulsion and denial of future permission. Overall, permit issuance is frozen, 200 short visa extensions only issued in 2007, making the likelihood of family unification slim.
Palestinians of Gaza and East Jerusalem
According to Oslo, the West Bank and Gaza are one unit together with East Jerusalem – what’s, in fact, denied by de facto and de jure separation, hardened with Gaza under siege.
After the 1967 occupation, both Territories were declared closed military areas while Israel annexed East Jerusalem. In 1972, a ‘general exit permit’ was issued, marking a change in movement in Occupied Palestine. In 1991, during the Gulf War, Israel cancelled it. Thereafter, Palestinians who wanted to enter Israel needed permits.
In March 1993, Israel imposed a ‘general closure’ on the Territories, still enforced, making it difficult to change residency from one area to the other. After the second intifada, conditions worsened, Palestinians failing to update their West Bank residency expelled to Gaza, others as punishment, and some prohibited West Bank entry after visiting Gaza.
In 2007, with Hamas in control, Gaza was declared an ‘enemy entity,’ making movement between the Territories nearly impossible. It was also harder to change residency from one area to the other. As a result, Palestinian families holding West Bank and Gaza IDs face similar obstacles to others with non-resident spouses.
Recently, Israel’s High Court rejected a petition challenging the 2003 Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law, prohibiting Palestinians from entering Israel and preventing thousands of couples from living normally, most unable to reunite, others residing in Israel without health insurance, work permits, or other social benefits.
According to General Uri Shoham, Israel’s Military Advocate General from 1995 – 2000, ‘all Israeli governments from 1967 to the present have laid down a strict requirement that all activities of the Israeli military in the control of the Territories must adhere to the principle of ‘the rule of law,’ ‘ the alternative being John Locke’s 1690 observation that ‘Whenever law ends, tyranny begins.’
It’s why Israel issued military orders to rule, through law as it claims, no matter how repressive. Contrary to General Shoham, ‘is this what legality is all about and that this is what rule of law means?’ Distinguish instead between ‘rule by’ and ‘through’ law and the rule of law. The former can be called ‘formal conceptions of legality,’ the latter a ‘substantial conception of legality.’
The former are ‘value or content-free. Legality is simply converted into respecting certain principles or criteria for making new rules of law and in applying (them) whenever conflict arises.’ The latter ‘look beyond the making and attempt to reach the values behind them.’
Israel uses law and legality to rule by and through law by carrying out discriminatory policies, using military orders to deny Palestinians registration, treat them as aliens in their own land, prohibit reentry, forbid family unifications, and expel, imprison or fine anyone for any reason. That’s how a police state operates, Israeli policy for over 43 years.
As a result, freedom and equality are absent, Palestinians’ basic rights denied. ‘Only a substantial conception of the rule of law – in which freedom and rights are integrated in the same concept of legality – allows law, especially positive law, to be converted into a tool for discrimination, apartheid and colonialism, and reduces legality to legalism,’ a tool for social, economic and political control.
Using ‘legality,’ Israel occupies Palestine oppressively, denying its residents basic freedoms, including civil liberties and human rights, controlled through, not by the rule of law. What must end one day and will. What determined resistance won’t tolerate any other way.
– Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com.