If Israel was serious about restoring security to its capital, it would recognize the Palestinian claim to East Jerusalem and find a way for all residents to live in dignity.
Trying to make good on his promise to restore quiet in Jerusalem, Prime Minister Netanyahu and his cabinet approved an amendment to Israel’s penal code on Sunday, which would prescribe up to 20 years in prison for someone caught throwing stones at a vehicle (and 10 without having to prove intent to cause harm).
Currently, Palestinians convicted in Israeli civil courts of throwing stones receive around two years in jail, so if this is enforced, it would be a significant increase in degree of severity. While in theory such a law would apply to Israeli citizens, the country’s history of discrimination and granting settler impunity, it is hard to imagine Israeli Jews will be more than nominally affected. While the amendment still needs to pass through committee and three Knesset votes, the message of the bill is clear: a Palestinian caught throwing a stone will go away for a long, long time.
While the potential law would apply to all citizens of Israel, it is clearly directed at Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem — occupied, annexed and ruled under Israeli civil law. A similar law is already in place in the West Bank, which under direct Israeli military occupation is governed by Israeli military law. This strengthens the notion that Israel is looking to treat East Jerusalem Palestinians more like it treats West Bank Palestinians.
Whether or not the bill goes through, the Israeli government’s approach to the intensifying unrest in Jerusalem is clearly designed to, as Netanyahu put it, “[take] vigorous action against terrorists and those who throw stones, fire bombs and fireworks…in order to restore quiet and security throughout Jerusalem. I have ordered that massive reinforcements be brought in [to Jerusalem] and that additional means be used in order to ensure law and order in Israel’s capital.”
The Israeli security...Read More