Statement by Foreign Minister of the State of Palestine, before the United Nations Security Council

Statement by H.E. Dr. Riad Malki, Foreign Minister of the State of Palestine, before the United Nations Security Council, Open Debate on the Situation in the Middle East, including the Palestine question, New York, 26 January 2016 (Delivered by Ambassador Dr.Riyad Mansour, Permanent Observer of the State of Palestine to the United Nations):

Mr. President,

I congratulate the friendly country of Uruguay on its election to the Security Council and thank Your Excellency, Minister Rodolfo Nin Novoa, for convening this important debate under Uruguay’s presidency.

I thank the Secretary-General of the United Nations, H.E. Mr. Ban Ki-moon, for his important briefing to the Council on the current situation.

Today, I also extend our congratulations to other new non-permanent members – Egypt, Japan, Senegal and Ukraine, wishing them success in fulfilling their responsibilities under the Charter. We renew our deep appreciation to Chad, Chile, Jordan, Lithuania and Nigeria for their skilled service and principled positions on so many critical issues, including the question of Palestine, during their tenure.

I express our appreciation to all of the Ministers joining us here today, underscoring the attention and concern ascribed to the Palestine issue and situation in the Middle East as a whole. Among the esteemed Ministers present is Minister Mankeur Ndiaye of Senegal, which also plays an important role as Chair of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, a responsibility undertaken by Senegal for the past 40 years, for which we are most grateful.

Mr. President,

We gather again in the Security Council – which for seven decades has been entrusted with the responsibility of upholding international peace and security – to address one of the longest-standing issues on the UN agenda, namely the question of Palestine and the situation in the Middle East. Every day that passes with this institution failing to shoulder its Charter duties means the death of more innocent civilians, more destruction of property, lives and the prospects for peace, and more hopelessness, representing a continual and growing threat to international peace and security.

While Palestine has figured prominently on the UN agenda since its establishment, the plight of our people tragically persists and peace continues to evade us. Neither support nor solidarity for Palestine have been lacking, but rather the political courage and will to implement the countless resolutions of the Security Council and General Assembly in the face of Israel’s total intransigence and disrespect for all of its obligations, including international humanitarian law (IHL) and human rights law. The failure to hold Israel, the occupying Power, accountable and to compel its compliance with the law has caused immense suffering for the Palestinian people, among them millions of refugees, exacerbating an-already deplorable security, humanitarian and socio-economic situation, compounding the crisis manifold and undermining the foundations of a just and lasting solution.

In the past seven years alone, we have repeatedly come to address this Council and have traveled from capital to capital, presenting as well as supporting ideas, texts, initiatives and urging action. Since the adoption of resolution 1860 (2009) following the Israeli war on the Gaza Strip in December 2008-January 2009, the Council has failed to take any action to redress this injustice. And in this period, at least 2,500 more Palestinians, among them hundreds of children and women, have been killed in repeated Israeli wars on Gaza and in military raids in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, tens of thousands of civilians have been wounded, thousands have been arrested, detained and abused by the occupying forces, and an inhumane blockade and vast destruction have been continuously inflicted on Gaza. At the same time, Israeli settlement construction in Occupied Palestine, especially in Occupied East Jerusalem and the Jordan Valley, has continued unabated at the expense of peace and the viability and contiguity of our State, and Israeli settler terror against Palestinian civilians has reached unprecedented levels and has inflamed religious sensitivities, particularly regarding Al-Haram Al-Sharif and Al-Aqsa Mosque.

The world has witnessed on live television the perpetration of war crimes against the Palestinian people and yet no action has been taken. As we speak, Palestinians, the majority youth, are being killed daily in the streets, many extra-judicially executed, by occupying forces and settlers, and Israel continues its policy of collective punishment, including the demolition of homes, withholding of the bodies of martyrs, and widespread arrest and detention raids, and its suffocating blockade on Gaza continues to obstruct desperately-needed reconstruction, to deprive our people of all the basics of a dignified life, and to deepen despair. There is no justification for such violence and oppression against the defenseless Palestinian civilian population. IHL provisions, primarily the 4th Geneva Convention, prohibit such actions and obligate the occupying Power to ensure, inter alia, the safety and well-being of the civilians under its occupation, not the other way around.

Claims that such violence and crimes are necessary to ensure Israeli security are offensive and must be rejected. All peoples are entitled to security; it is not exclusive to Israel and cannot be achieved by illegal and aggressive actions that only fan the flames of violence and intensify anger and tensions. These unlawful actions must be stopped. We cannot allow the international community to turn a blind eye to the horrors being endured by our people, nor can we accept continued refusal to end the impunity and immunity that have been granted to Israeli officials, occupation forces and terrorist settlers, making these repeated, widespread and systematic crimes possible. We cannot accept the reasoning of those who keep demanding security for the occupying Power, while failing to demand security for the occupied people, who are entitled to and assured of such security under international law. The UN must act to ensure protection for our people in line with international law and its own resolutions, including Security Council resolutions specifically calling for protection for the Palestinian people, and precedents and relevant studies before the Council must be considered.

Mr. President,

Israel must choose between occupation and peace. It is clear from the policies of successive Israeli governments that the colonial agenda has trumped the peace agenda in Israel, and it is equally clear that without international intervention, this situation cannot be reversed.

The continuation and expansion of the settlement regime are a destructive reality we witness every day, even if the world doesn’t always see or hear the bulldozers. Just last week, Israel audaciously declared 370 acres south of Jericho as so-called “State land”, constituting one of the largest illegal land expropriations in years. Recently, Israeli plans to construct more than 65,000 new illegal settlement units throughout Occupied Palestine were also exposed. These plans, which include thousands of units in Occupied East Jerusalem and surrounding areas, including the so-called “E-1” area, would sever East Jerusalem from its Palestinian environs. Moreover, hundreds more units are being constructed in the so-called “Givat Eitam” illegal settlement, referred to as “E-2”, in the south of Bethlehem, just to name a few of the more glaring examples.

It is an understatement to say that any settlement unit built anywhere in our occupied land brings us a step closer to the end of the two-State vision. The international community must directly address this and send an unequivocal message to Israel now, before it is too late. It cannot ignore these facts or the fact that the Israeli Foreign Ministry recently released a document inconceivably claiming that settlements are “legal” under international law. The illegality of the Israeli settlement regime has been reaffirmed by the Security Council in several resolutions, the High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Conventions, the International Court of Justice, the Human Rights Council, successive Special Rapporteurs and international fact-finding missions, and nearly every single State around the world, with the exception of Israel. No one can deny that the forced transfer of Palestinian civilians and the transfer of Israelis to the occupied territory are grave breaches of IHL and war crimes under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. Israel’s arguments rely on absurd interpretations of very clear legal texts and on historical distortions and empty pretexts used for decades to justify colonialism and apartheid, which are two among the most condemned phenomena in history. Yet, Israel persists in spreading both, in word and deed.

The most striking aspect in the Israeli Foreign Ministry’s document is not the absurd argument made in defense of the indefensible, but rather the fact that it reconfirms Israel’s total commitment to the colonial settlement regime at the expense of the law and of peace. The question therefore is not what we hope Israel will do to end the settlement regime it continues to plan, develop, expand, defend, and commit vast resources to, but rather what the international community will do in fulfillment of its own obligations, as spelled out by the principles of international law, the UN Charter, the relevant Conventions, including the 4th Geneva Convention, and the ICJ Advisory Opinion, notably in relation to third party responsibility. This must be considered and acted on as a matter of priority and urgency. 

Mr. President,

The inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, including to self-determination and freedom are non-negotiable, and cannot be subject to the occupying Power’s good will or lack thereof. No State can, under the pretext of supporting dialogue among the parties, evade its own responsibility to uphold international law. This is a time for action and responsibility; our region and the world cannot afford the looming breakdown that would lead to more chaos and suffering. Those who believe the occupation is sustainable or that we will surrender to it are mistaken. We remain relentless in pursuit of our independence and rights. We call on this Council to play its role and fulfill its responsibilities: End this oppression, end the occupation and help make peace and justice a reality for all the peoples of this region. This is your duty and it cannot be delegated, delayed or dismissed. Silence and inaction are the accomplices of occupation and enemies of peace.

Today we must ask: Have we all done everything in our power and exhausted all means, only to reach the point of failure? Is there no way ahead? We continue to believe another path is possible, that peace is possible and that confrontation and war are not inevitable. We have demonstrated a firm commitment to peace, but it has no chance of leading to a lasting solution without decisive international action in support of the two-State solution on the pre-1967 borders and of measures that hold accountable those who are destroying it. In this regard, we are all aware that the Israeli settlement enterprise in all its manifestations is the most formidable obstacle to the peace we seek.

While we appreciate the strong positions expressed by all Security Council members and the international community at large against Israeli settlement activities, these positions must be translated into action. And this action must start here at the Security Council. It must involve measures by all States and go beyond not rendering aid or assistance to holding Israel accountable for its actions. There are important ideas raised by recent international reports, including by NGOs, which can help identify a way forward. International mechanisms are also necessary, including the convening of an international conference with the main objective of ending the occupation and achieving peace and establishment of an international support group to advance this goal. Only with proper monitoring and accountability can we hope to turn the tide and have a chance at reaching the shores of safety. The priority should be lasting peace not temporary calm.

Mr. President,

I came here today to again appeal for such action on behalf of the Palestinian people, who are entitled and demanding their freedom, and on behalf of all those who seek and promote peace and justice. Those needing pretexts not to act will always find one: they will try to make us address consequences rather than causes, tell us to wait until the next election, or to understand there are more pressing issues, until everything collapses. In recent months, several States have taken initiatives and shown leadership and understanding for the urgency to act and prioritize this matter among the many other priority issues they are cooperatively working to resolve. It is time for a collective process for Palestinian-Israeli peace. It is time for the Security Council to reflect the expressed will of its members and the international community it is mandated to represent. Excuses, mild positions and half measures will not suffice. The international will is being tested, and failure is not an option.

I thank you Mr. President.

 

Dr. Ashrawi calls for the immediate and unconditional release of Palestinian journalist Muhammad al-Qiq

“On behalf of the PLO Executive Committee, we call on the Israeli authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Palestinian journalist Muhammad al-Qiq who has been on hunger strike for sixty-one days.  Al-Qiq who is literally on the brink of death has been held under the unlawful practice of administrative detention for the past two months and subjected to severe and unjust acts of torture by the Israeli Prison Service.

We fully support al-Qiq and other prisoners who have courageously adopted hunger strike to expose the inhumanity and illegality of administrative detention; they embody a selfless struggle for justice and independence in Palestine, and expose the brutality and criminality of the continued military occupation, particularly in relation to the thousands of Palestinian men, women and children prisoners in Israeli jails.  They are also exercising the essence of nonviolent resistance that should be noted and safeguarded by the international community.

We call on all governments, members of the press community and people of conscience to act to guarantee that Palestinian political prisoners’ rights are safeguarded once and for all and to bring Israel to end its cruel and illegal use of administrative detention and other punitive measures against Palestinian political prisoners. We urge them to form an independent international commission of inquiry to investigate the severe and unlawful violations committed by the Israeli occupation.”

Dr. Ashrawi on the EU Foreign Affairs Council’s conclusions on the Middle East peace process

PLO Executive Committee Member Dr. Hanan Ashrawi said:

The PLO Executive Committee welcomes this clear unequivocal stand in support of international law and justice and in the denunciation of Israel’s illegal settlement policy.  This is a decisive and forthright statement that should bring Israel to reconsider its policies and to cease its illegal and destructive measures.

We acknowledge the EU’s commitment to the two-state solution, ending the occupation that began in 1967, and supporting “a renewed multilateral approach to the peace process,” which include the possible establishment of an international support group and an international conference.

We are encouraged by the Council’s decision “to ensure continued, full and effective implementation of existing EU legislation and bilateral arrangements applicable to settlements products” and to establish that any agreement with Israel must “unequivocally and explicitly indicate its inapplicability to the territories occupied by Israel in 1967.”  Such a commitment is indeed significant in the course of holding Israel to account on the basis of EU legislation. 

We appreciate the EU’s insistence on compliance with international humanitarian law and international human rights law” and for taking a positive stance on behalf of children and calling for their protection, including “ensuring the right to education in a safe and secure school environment.”

We also acknowledge the need for reconciliation, democratic elections in Palestine and ensuring a system of good governance.  We welcome the EU’s call for the “lifting of restriction on movement of people, services and goods” in Gaza.

Nonetheless, it is clear that “the underlying causes of the conflict” continue to be the ongoing Israeli military occupation and the denial of the Palestinian people’s right to freedom and legal recourse and protection.  Allocating equal blame fails to take into account the power asymmetry between the belligerent occupier and a vulnerable side under occupation whose rights are being willfully violated.

In denouncing Israeli violations, we are seeking accountability for Israel, which should not be misrepresented as incitement or provocation; the real incitement and provocation are Israeli government and settler violence, as well as the pervasive program of oppression and injustice represented by the occupation itself.

East Jerusalem, as occupied territory, must be included in all legal and political moves in order for it to be the capital of the free State of Palestine.

While we appreciate the promise of “European political, economic and security support and of a Special Privileged Partnership with the EU,” we urge the EU to take concrete steps and measures (1) to refrain from importing all settlement products; (2) to hold Israel accountable for its persistent settlement policies and practices and bring it to compliance with international law; and (3) to adopt a comprehensive and effective political initiative that would bring about an end to the occupation before the Israeli government destroys any possibility of peace.”

PLO Secretary General Dr. Saeb Erekat on HRW Report regarding Israeli settlement businesses

The Human Rights Watch (HRW) report details the contribution that settlement businesses have in systematically denying of Palestinian national and human rights. It certainly exposes one of the most absurd media lines Israel’s propaganda machine has been spewing that settlement businesses ‘contribute’ to the Palestinian economy. It’s important that the report has outlined third state responsibility and encourages international businesses to severe and define properly ties with illegal Israel settlements.

We are disappointed that the report falls short by failing to call for a complete ban on trade with Israeli settlements, nonetheless, we welcome the report’s central message that all lawful measures should be taken to properly define products and services and ensure that they do not receive any benefits under bi-lateral trade agreements. We also congratulate the report for detailing with accuracy how international businesses and governments that maintain trade ties with Israeli settlements are complicit in the denial of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people.

We urge all government to work towards ending companies or subsidiaries of Israeli companies operating out of international markets from operating in the occupied State of Palestine, we also urge countries to adopt national legislation that bans illegal settler products and services from entering any international market and to severe ties with any establishments that contribute to the denial of Palestinian fundamental human rights. 

Our position on that matter is clear: There must be a full cessation of trade, both in goods and services, with illegal Israeli settlements. We call for the full application of international humanitarian law in the occupied State of Palestine, including international responsibility towards the full implementation of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people.

Background:

·       Israeli illegal settlements and their associated infrastructure state-directed policies is placing a heavy toll on the Palestinian economy costing it almost 50% of its current GDP per year according to recent World Bank report. We estimate the cost at 89% of our current GDP.

·       Illegal settlements operate businesses and factories that use Palestinian natural resources including water, land, stones, marbles, Dead Sea minerals, agriculture among various others. The theft in day light of natural resources making their way to European and international markets should end now. This is a grave violation of international law and international legal norms and should not be rewarded by the international community.

·       Israeli products, many of which are manufactured partially or fully from Palestinian natural resources is a war crime and international business ties should end immediately. 

·       A significant number of international companies operate in illegal Israeli settlements and are benefiting from Israel’s illegal policies in the occupied state of Palestine. Countries have an obligation to ensure that those who are directly or indirectly involved in the Israeli settlement enterprise, or in any other Israeli policy in the occupied State of Palestine that contravenes international law, are bereft of any benefit derived from bi-lateral agreements signed between the parties and should encourage its own companies to halt such relations.

Israeli settlers scrawl hate graffiti on Jerusalem church

Suspected Israeli extremist wrote threatening hate speech on the doors of an ancient church in the Old City of Jerusalem overnight Saturday, Wadie Abu Nassar, a senior advisor to the Catholic Church who is considered close to the Vatican, told Ma’an.
Abu Nassar said the doors of the Dormition Abbey church were vandalized with threats scrawled in Hebrew that read: “Kill the Christians, the enemy of Israel” and “The revenge is coming very soon,” as well as “Send Christians to hell.”
Abu Nassar condemned the graffiti, calling it racist, and pointed out that the incident was not the first Israeli attack against Dormition Abbey.
In 2014, a suspected Israeli extremist lit a prayer book on fire in the abbey, in what police at the time said was a suspected arson attack just hours after Pope Francis held mass at a nearby Christian holy spot during a visit to the area.
A year before that, Israeli extremists spray-painted “Jesus is a monkey” in Hebrew outside the church, and “Havat Maon,” the name of an illegal Israeli settler outpost that had been dismantled by the Israeli government just days before the attack, Israeli daily Haaretz reported at the time.
In 2012, suspected extremists spray-painted “Jesus, son of a bitch,” in Hebrew, with the words “price tag,” a term used by Israeli extremists to mark nationalist-motivated hate crimes.
Abu Nassar said in the past that the extremists responsible for the attacks were not prosecuted by the Israeli government in a “serious way.”
Dormition Abbey dates back to the 5th century, and is thought to be the place where the Virgin Mary died. The abbey is owned by the German Benedictine Order and is considered to be one of the three earliest churches built in Jerusalem.
Israeli settlers have carried out at least 221 attacks on Palestinians and their property in occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank in 2015, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

Source: https://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=769842

Dr. Saeb Erekat: “Freeing the State of Palestine by ending the Israeli occupation is vital to the security and stability of the whole region and beyond, including Europe”

Dr. Saeb Erekat, Secretary-General of the Executive Committee of the PLO, strongly condemned the hateful Israeli campaign against Swedish Foreign Minister, Margot Wallstrom in response to her legitimate calls to open an investigation into Israel’s extrajudicial killing of Palestinian civilians.

 “Israeli incitement against Ms. Wallstrom is coming from the Israeli government and political parties, highlighting Israel’s attitude that its partners are only those that allow Israel to be a state above the law.”

 Dr. Erekat called on the Israeli government to invest its time and effort to peace rather than to criticizing international law and devoting its efforts to prolonging the occupation.

Regarding the upcoming conclusions of the European Union’s Foreign Affairs Council, Dr. Erekat said: “We support all efforts aimed at bringing protection to the Palestinian people and accountability for the crimes committed against them. We also welcome greater engagement from Europe.”

Dr. Erekat continued: “We call upon the European Union to uphold to its responsibilities in order to protect and promote human rights and international law. Countries that undermine a common policy towards Palestine, by continuing to treat Israel as a state above the law, should abide by their own obligations under this framework.”

 Dr. Erekat concluded, “Freeing the State of Palestine by ending the Israeli occupation is vital to the security and stability of the whole region and beyond, including Europe.”

Dr. Erekat: A New Year of Israel’s Occupation Has Begun with Continued War Crimes

It is time to divest from all companies and organizations that are complicit in the Israeli occupation and its settlement enterprise

 Dr. Saeb Erekat, the Secretary General of the Palestine Liberation Organization, strongly condemned the recent Israeli plans to advance its colonization operations throughout the Occupied State of Palestine, which primarily aim to further divide and isolate Occupied East Jerusalem from the rest of the West Bank.  Dr. Erekat stressed that Israel’s illegal policies are based on the continued demolition of Palestinian homes with the intention to forcibly transfer the Palestinian population and replace them with more Israeli settlers. 

Dr. Erekat stressed that Israel’s illegal policies violate various fundamental human rights and constitute a grave breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention, including war crimes and crimes against humanity under international criminal law. He also reconfirmed the urgency for “the International community to translate their verbal condemnations by taking decisive actions against the Israeli crimes that continue to undermine the two-state solution and a viable, contiguous Palestinian State.”

Among the various illegal Israeli settlement policies and activities, Peace Now recently exposed plans by the Israeli Ministry of Housing to construct more than 65,000 new illegal settlement units throughout Occupied Palestine. These plans include thousands of units in the Eastern Jerusalem Governorate; in the heart of the area designated to the E1 illegal settlement plan. In addition to the construction of hundreds of units in Givat Eitam illegal settlement, referred to as E2, in the south of Bethlehem.

Furthermore, the Israeli Minister, Moshe Ya’alon, has recently announced the annexation of Beit Al-Baraka Church compound into Gush Etzion illegal settlement, located south to Bethlehem. This comes parallel to recent demolitions targeting Palestinian communities and homes, including Abu Nwar Bedouin Community located in the Eastern Jerusalem Governorate. According to international humanitarian agencies, five Palestinian homes, an animal shelter, and five International donor-funded structures were destroyed. This has resulted in the displacement of five Palestinian families, including 26 people, the overwhelming majority children.

Dr. Erekat added: “We are encouraged by the courageous decision taken by the United Methodist Church to divest from a list of Israeli Banks that are involved in funding Israel’s illegal settlement enterprise in the Occupied State of Palestine. By doing so, the United Methodist Church is divesting from oppression to invest in justice.”

A new year of Israel’s occupation has begun with continued war crimes by further colonizing Palestine. Israel’s systematic policies of apartheid and ethnic cleansing should be criticized and punished. This is the only way to see an end to the injustice committed against the land and people of Palestine. It is time for the International community to assume its responsibilities; to hold Israel accountable and to divest from all companies and organizations that are complicit in the Israeli occupation and its settlement enterprise,” Dr. Erekat concluded.

Birzeit University condemns Israeli ‘military attack’ on campus

Birzeit University on Monday condemned an Israeli army raid into its campus in Ramallah overnight, during which it said Israeli forces confiscated and damaged university equipment.”Birzeit University condemns this attack and the direct violation of the sanctity of the university campus,” the university said in a statement. “This is a belligerent military attack on the university and our right to education and all the principles involved in the freedom of education.”The university said that Israeli soldiers raided the campus in more than 15 military vehicles shortly before 3 a.m., breaching the campus’ western gate and storming the university’s student council and faculty of science.”The military confiscated equipment and computers used in the activities of the students council and destroyed and damaged furniture leaving a great deal of havoc behind,” the university said.”This is a blatant attack on our student council and the sanctity of democratic values. This violation of the campus is a part of a blatant and systematic attack on the right of education and freedom of expression.”Birzeit University condemned a range of other “outrageous acts” by Israel, including the detention of some 80 students, including more than 25 taken into Israeli custody since a wave of unrest swept the occupied Palestinian territory in October.”Stealing our students’ lives and working to destroy the sanctity of our university campus and our right to education is an atrocious and obvious attempt to destroy the will of the Palestinian people,” the university said.The university added that the “constant” attacks against it would “strengthen the university’s commitment to its noble cause — education.”The Israeli army confirmed that the raid took place. An army spokesperson said that Israeli forces had “seized material, including propaganda belonging to Hamas.”

Source: https://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=769754

Army Raids, Wreaks Havoc into Birzeit University near Ramallah

Israeli troops Monday raided the campus of Birzeit University, north of Ramallah, where they destroyed some of the contents and seized other belongings, according to the university’s administration.

The university, in a press release, said that at early dawn Monday, an Israeli army force of about 15 vehicles broke into the university’s headquarters after breaking down the university’s western gate, and turned it into a military outpost.

Soldiers reportedly raided the offices of the student s, in addition to the office of the Students’ Council, where they seized flags, banners, loud speakers, audio devices and computers belonging to students.

The soldiers further destroyed some of the contents and denied the access of the university’s guards to the scene, the university added.

The university’s administration denounced this Israeli attack, which it stressed, violates all norms and conventions that criminalize attacks on academic facilities and health centers, calling on the international community and relevant human rights organizations to condemn this Israeli aggression.

To be noted, this is the second such attack on the university; on June 19th, 2014, the army raided and wreaked havoc into the university’s campus.

Source: http://english.wafa.ps/page.aspx?id=1etBixa28929484188a1etBix

Group: Majority of Jerusalem Palestinians detained in 2015 were minors

Israeli forces detained more than 1,900 Palestinians from occupied East Jerusalem in 2015, the majority of whom were minors, a prisoners’ rights group said on Sunday.A spokesman for the Palestinian Prisoners’ Center for Studies, Riyad al-Ashqar, said in a statement that around two-thirds of those detained from the occupied city were minors, 65 of whom were put under house arrest.Al-Ashqar slammed Israel’s use of house arrest on Palestinians under the age of 14 as an attempt to skirt Israeli law regarding imprisonment of minors that in effect “turns the child’s house itself to a prison and the family members to wardens.”Israeli authorities launched a series of new measures in November in response to an increase in unrest in occupied East Jerusalem that had escalated in the months prior.Included in the measures was a bill approved by the Israeli Ministerial Committee for Legislation that enables minors from 12 years of age to be given custodial sentences for committing “nationalistically-motivated” crimes.Following the approval, prisoners’ rights group Addameer said that children convicted of such crimes would not actually serve the sentences until reaching the age of 14, as current criminal law in Israel prohibits custodial sentences against children under 14.
The group reported that the Knesset — Israel’s parliament — meanwhile changed an existing national insurance law to enable authorities to remove social benefits provided to children convicted of “nationalistic-motivated” offenses and “terrorist activities” while they served time in prison.Israeli juvenile courts were also granted the ability to charge families of children convicted of such crimes fines of up to 10,000 shekels (US$2,580).The Israeli government and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in particular came under heavy fire in July when the Knesset passed a law allowing stone-throwers to receive a 20-year prison sentence where intent to harm could be proven, and 10 years where it could not.
Critics argued the law would be implemented solely to crack down on Palestinian youth in occupied East Jerusalem who frequently clashed with Israeli forces.At the time the bill was passed, Palestinian MK Jamal Zahalka said: “Who will the judge send to prison? He who demolished the home, seized the land, killed the brother, or the boy who threw a stone?”The Israeli PM then declared a “war on stone throwing” in September, giving the okay for Israeli forces to use sniper fire against stone throwers in circumstances that “posed mortal danger.”Since tensions heightened in October and clashes between Palestinian youth and Israeli forces became near-daily in Jerusalem, Addameer reported that the Israeli Prison Service had opened a new juvenile section at Givon prison to accommodate for the mass spike in detention of Palestinian minors. Conditions in the prison documented by Defense for Children International – Palestine (DCIP) have since failed to meet international standards, with children detainees reportedly denied family visitation and forced into solitary confinement.Both Addameer and DCIP following the increase in detention of Palestinian children in the final months of 2015 called on Israel to implement laws equally against Palestinian and Jewish Israeli youth.