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Nearly half of Americans support sanctions on Israel, poll finds

As the Democratic party regroups ahead of the next election cycle, it would be wise for its leadership to examine areas where the Clinton campaign diverged from the party’s base. Israel-Palestine is one of those issues.

The number of Americans who support imposing sanctions on Israel over its defiant settlement policies has shot up to 46 percent, the same percentage of Americans who voted for Donald Trump in the presidential election.

That number has shot up nearly 10 percentage points over the past year, according to a national poll published by the Brookings Institute on Friday, on the sidelines of this week’s Saban Forum, “an annual dialogue between American and Israeli leaders.”

Among Democrats, a 60-percent majority “supported imposing some economic sanctions or taking more serious action” in response to Israeli settlements, the poll found. A much smaller number of Republican respondents (31 percent) support sanctions.

The United States, like most countries in the world, opposes the existence and expansion of Israeli settlements — both in the occupied West Bank (including East Jerusalem) and Golan Heights. Despite that opposition, however, Washington has rarely set any consequences for Israel’s settlement policies or actions.

Out of step with the people

One of the three demands in the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS), is an end to Israel’s military occupation, a step many believe would require the dismantling of the West Bank settlements.

The Brookings poll seems to indicate that nearly half of Americans, enough to elect a president, support that Palestinian demand and want their government to take action along those lines, at least with the “S” part of BDS.

Perhaps demonstrating how out of touch decision makers are with the electorate on the matter of Palestine and Palestinian rights, momentum in American government — local and national — seems to be toward limiting the tools Americans have to leverage their own economic and political power to end the occupation.

At least 22 U.S. states have legislation that punishes companies for answering the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel. Just this past week, the United States Senate passed a bill that includes in its definition of anti-Semitism, “[a]pplying double standards by requiring of [Israel] a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.”

Those legislative measures, meant to limit the public’s legitimate protests and discourse on Israeli human rights violations...

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WATCH: A new brand of Jewish nonviolence in Palestine

What happens when dozens of Jewish American activists come to Palestine to practice civil disobedience alongside Palestinians struggling against the occupation?

In the summer of 2016, dozens of Jews from the U.S. and other countries came to Palestine, at the request of Palestinian activists, to use nonviolence, civil disobedience, and their privilege as Jews to help oppose the Israeli occupation. Under the banner of “Occupation is not my Judaism,” the activists helped rebuild homes demolished by the Israeli army, facilitated an entire displaced Palestinian village’s return to to its former homes, and put their bodies on the line to challenge the Israeli military regime of segregation and settlement in Hebron.

+972 Magazine joined the Center for Jewish Nonviolence (CJNV) to see what they were doing, what drove them to stand side-by-side with the Palestinian people, and what they think they can accomplish by leveraging their privilege as American Jews in doing so. How would the Israeli army react to dozens of American Jews practicing civil disobedience, willing to be arrested alongside Palestinian activists in the West Bank?

Video by Lia Tarachansky and Michael Schaeffer Omer-Man:

“It’s been very easy for many of us in the liberal or progressive Zionist world to rationalize away that Israel is really an oppressor, that it is literally oppressing another people,” Rabbi Brant Rosen, a member of the CJNV delegation told +972. “This [direct action] isn’t working in a soup kitchen. This is in service of a larger goal of ending the infrastructural oppression of the occupation.”

Part of the advantage of being a self-identified Jewish group, explained CJNV executive director Ilana Sumka is its members’ ability to influence their diaspora Jewish communities back home. “The more the American Jewish community can shift its understanding about why it’s so urgent for the occupation to end,” Sumka said. “I think that will have a ripple effect in the broader American political spectrum.”

For many of the CJNV members with whom +972 spoke, that strategy is inextricably linked to personal Jewish identity. “My activism comes from a sense that there’s a strong [Jewish] imperative and obligation to treat other people well, that there are specific ways in which we have to treat the other people with whom we live — I think it’s very clear in the Torah,” explained CJNV member and Princeton student Maya Rosen. “The way that our...

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Why a settlement boycott is so scary for Israel

The Israeli government sees the idea of a settlement boycott as a farce because it knows how impossible it would be to stop even a targeted boycott from bleeding right through the Green Line it’s been working so hard to erase.

A year after the European Union published guidelines for labeling Israeli settlement products, France last week published its own regulations obligating importers and retailers to label all settlement goods — not just noting that a product comes from the West Bank but that it comes from an Israeli settlement in the West Bank.

Israel’s seemingly disproportionate objections to the European labeling regime is difficult to understand for many, especially considering that the EU has for decades differentiated between Israel and its settlements in the occupied territories. The EU free trade agreement with Israel, for instance, does not apply to Israeli settlements, and every other treaty and agreement makes the same distinction.

In France, Israel’s objections are even more confounding considering that actual boycotts of Israel are against the law in that country. So why is Israel making such a big deal out of the settlement product labels?

The brouhaha isn’t actually about labels. It’s about the next logical step of a labeling regime or even a boycott of settlement products: boycotting, divesting and sanctioning entities that do business in or with the settlements.

That deeply worries Israeli decision makers because in reality there is no differentiation between the economy of Israel and the settlement economy. On the ground, in the financial system, and in countless other ways, there is no Green Line as far as the Israeli economy is concerned.

The same Israeli banks that give homeowners and real estate developers mortgages and loans in Tel Aviv also finance the development and purchase of homes in West Bank settlements. The same cellular companies that provide service in Haifa build cellular towers in illegal settlement outposts in the West Bank. The same supermarkets and pharmacies and gas stations that serve Be’er Sheva also have branches in settlements throughout the West Bank. And the same police department that patrols the streets of Caesarea also enforces segregation on the streets of Hebron.

Boycotting a farmer from Tekoa, a winery in Psagot, or a factory in Mishor Adomim might make the decision to locate a business beyond the Green Line less profitable, and perhaps even spur a decision to move shop....

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Israel deems comatose Gaza man a security threat

Abed al-Karim Abu Haloub has been in a coma in Gaza for over 40 days, requiring treatment in the West Bank. Israel repeatedly refused to allow him to leave.

Israeli authorities repeatedly refused to allow a Palestinian man from the Gaza Strip to receive medical treatment in the West Bank, denying his travel permit on security grounds, despite the fact that he has been in a coma for over a month.

Physicians for Human Rights—Israel (PHR) attempted to intervene on the Abed al-Karim Abu Haloub’s behalf, twice appealing the decision to reject his permit request to no avail. The fact that Abu Haloub is comatose and connected to a ventilator was not enough to allay Israel’s concerns that he might pose a security threat.

The Shin Bet and IDF only lifted the security ban when faced with the prospect of the absurd refusal being exposed publicly, when Walla! News journalist Shabtai Bendat began inquiring about the case.

Abed al-Karim Abu Haloub has been in a coma in a Gaza Strip hospital for over 40 days and requires treatment that isn’t available in the Strip. The first request for a permit to move him to a hospital in Hebron was sent to the Israeli military in late October.

“According to medical records, the patient’s condition has significantly deteriorated and his life is in immediate danger,” Physicians for Human Rights wrote to the Israeli army in the letter appealing its rejection of the entry permit.

“His incapacitated condition and his inability to function makes your rejection on security grounds illogical,” the letter continued, according to Walla!. “In accordance with international law and Israeli legal precedents, it is Israel’s responsibility to allow a patient to receive medical care outside of the Gaza Strip.”

According to PHR, Abed al-Karim Abu Haloub’s is just one case reflective of a worrying trend over the past year in which Israel rejects travel permits for Palestinian patients who require treatment outside of Gaza. Many of those patients were being treated for serious illnesses like cancer or heart conditions, a number of whom had already begun life-saving treatments in Israeli or West Bank hospitals.

The avenues for challenging security blocks available to Palestinians are also becoming less effective, according to data published by PHR earlier this year. Whereas PHR says it was successful in overturning rejected permit requests over 60 percent in 2015, only 25 percent of rejected permit...

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What’s an illegal settlement?

The Israeli government is working tirelessly to retroactively legalize over 100 illegal West Bank outposts. They’ll probably get away with it. Is that such a bad thing?

The biggest story in Israel this past week — bigger than Trump or Aleppo — was the impending eviction of the illegal settlement outpost of Amona, and parallel efforts by the Israeli government to save dozens of others from the same fate.

What is an illegal settlement, you ask? Aren’t all settlements illegal under international law? Aren’t all Israeli settlements built on Palestinian land? The answer to the last two questions is yes, but the so-called illegal settlement outposts are illegal even under Israeli law. They were built without explicit government or military approval, and many sit on land privately owned by Palestinians — without the landowners’ permission.

That’s what happened in Amona. The settlement was built on privately owned Palestinian land, and the landowners went to an Israeli court to get their land back — and won. The court gave the government several years to carry out the eviction, partly due to the fact that the last time Israel evicted Amona, security forces encountered violent resistance from settlers. Now the deadline is just a few weeks away.

Israel’s most right-wing, most pro-settler government ever knows it lost this fight. But in order for Netanyahu to keep the right flank of his coalition by his side, he is playing along with their efforts to leverage the Amona “loss” to save the 100 or so other settlement outposts that could face similar court-ordered evictions.

That effort has primarily manifested as a proposed law called the “formalization law,” sometimes translated as the “normalization law.” In reality, it is a piece of legislation that would retroactively legalize the theft of privately owned Palestinian land. Netanyahu’s own attorney general has said he cannot defend such a law in court, but for political reasons the prime minister is letting his coalition partners run wild.

But wait. If all settlements are illegal under international law, and they are all built on Palestinian land, then what does it matter what Israel calls them? Well, there’s a pretty strong argument to be made that it doesn’t matter at all, and that just by acknowledging the concept of “illegal settlements” we are insinuating that there are legal settlements. There are not.

Yet there is still a case to be...

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Israel increasingly defiant as the world loses interest in Palestine

From the prime minister down, the Israeli government has effectively dropped the charade that the occupation is temporary, or that it actually fears consequences for its intransigence.

Israel’s leadership wants you to think it is worried about some bold move by President Barack Obama during his lame duck period between the November 8 U.S. elections and his successor’s inauguration on January 20. After all, there’s a compelling argument to be made that it would be bad for Israel if Washington threw its support behind a UN Security Council resolution reaffirming that Israeli settlements are illegal, or one that codifies a framework for an eventual peace deal.

Yet the Israeli government doesn’t seem to be worried at all.

An Israeli prime minister worried about international condemnation of his country’s illegal settlements probably wouldn’t declare that, “[t]here is no government that supports, or will support, settlement more than my government.”

An Israeli government concerned with the world’s perception of its intransigence wouldn’t send the deputy foreign minister (Netanyahu is technically the foreign minister) and parliament speaker to demand the annexation of Israel’s third-largest settlement. “The answer to the international battle over Jerusalem is to impose sovereignty over Ma’aleh Adumim,” Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely said Monday.

An Israeli government concerned with preserving the feasibility of a two-state solution wouldn’t promote an extensive rail project to connect West Bank settlements to Jerusalem, which the transportation minister announced on Tuesday. “If someone comes and says ‘we must place an artificial division since [those Israelis] live beyond what was once defined as the Green Line’ — we won’t accept that claim, of course,” Transportation Minister Israel Katz said, defending the plan.

An Israeli prime minister that wants to reassure the international community that his government is committed to a two-state solution, and not using the absence of a peace process to create facts on the ground that would preclude such a two-state outcome, would immediately fire a senior minister who consistently declares that Israel should annex more than 60 percent of the West Bank. Naftali Bennett said just that Sunday — that a UN Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlements should trigger the annexation of Area C of the West Bank.

The Israeli government knows that bringing about an end to its military occupation of Palestine has fallen to a record low spot on the world’s list of priorities. Between the war in Syria, the...

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Netanyahu's coalition whip wants to revoke B'Tselem director's citizenship

Senior Likud official, angry that Hagai El-Ad demanded the UN act to end the occupation, admits there’s no legal avenue to strip his citizenship — at the moment. The Israeli human rights organization says threats won’t deter it.

How does the only democracy in the Middle East deal with outspoken human rights activists? By threatening to revoke their citizenship, of course.

“I examined whether, legally speaking, if I can ask the interior minister to revoke the citizenship of B’Tselem’s executive director,” declared the Israeli parliament’s coalition chair, David Bitan, who serves as the whip for Benjamin Netanyahu’s ruling Likud party.

“I checked, and there’s no legal avenue for doing so today,” Bitan told Israeli television’s Channel 2 on Friday (Hebrew). “But we must strip his citizenship.”

B’Tselem Executive-Director Hagai El-Ad was invited to address a United Nations Security Council special session on Israel’s illegal settlements last week, along with a representative of Americans for Peace Now.

In his speech, published here in full, El-Ad said that international complacency has been a major factor in enabling Israel to maintain its military occupation over millions of Palestinians for nearly 50 years.

“The rights of Palestinians must be realized,” El-Ad’s declared in his Security Council speech, imploring the international body: “The occupation must end; the UN Security Council must act; and the time is now.”

In his call to revoke El-Ad’s citizenship, Coalition Chairman Bitan decried, “an Israeli citizen […] going to the Security Council and demanding sanctions on Israel and Israel’s citizens.”

B’Tselem and its director have been the targets of vicious incitement campaigns in recent years, the most notorious of which labeled El-Ad and others as foreign agents somehow tied to Palestinian stabbing attacks. Another declared that Israeli human rights organizations are serving anti-Semitic European paymasters to the detriment of their own country.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu himself joined the attacks against B’Tselem following El-Ad’s UN speech, saying the organization and its director are part of “a chorus of slander” against Israel.

The prime minister’s attack on Israel’s most prominent human rights organization earned him a rebuke from the United States government, which came out in defense of B’Tselem and other human rights groups.

 

B’Tselem published the following in response to Bitan’s statement on Friday:

“Bitan is just trying to accrue a little more political capital at the expense of B’Tselem, an organization which for years...

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Trump is reaching into Netanyahu’s election playbook

From race baiting to fear mongering to warning of liberal media conspiracies against him, the Republican presidential candidate is doing exactly what Netanyahu did to get re-elected. But the Israeli prime minister had something Trump doesn’t.

There is a lot about Donald Trump’s presidential campaign that is worryingly reminiscent of Benjamin Netanyahu’s electoral antics, particularly his willingness to say just about anything, regardless of the consequences as long as he thinks it might be politically expedient. Beyond style and personality, however, the tactical similarities in their respective campaigns’ final stretches are even more disturbing.

In particular, Trump’s recent, wildly unspecified warnings of voter fraud in inner-cities closely mimic Netanyahu’s election-day warning that Arab voters were being bussed to the polls in droves. Both warnings were designed to increase turnout among white — or in Israel’s case, Jewish — conservative voters by stoking fears that minorities are attempting to influence the democratic process by voting.

Such warnings play off the fears and resentments of both men’s core voters — the idea that their kind, the traditional face of their respective nations, might lose demographic majorities, and subsequently, political power. In Israel that fear, which most Jews do not consider racist to discuss, is known as “the demographic threat” — that Israel will no longer be able to justify its Jewishness democratically if non-Jews become a majority in its democracy (or even among those it rules undemocratically). In the United States these days, such fears are generally only expressed outside the home by white supremacists, but Trump seems to believe that with this type of rhetoric, he can evoke latent and even sub-conscious racism in mainstream white voters.

Another tactic Donald Trump has been trying out is warning, as a statement of fact, that ISIS will take over the United States if his opponent is elected. Benjamin Netanyahu made almost identical claims in the days and weeks before the Israeli elections last year, publishing television advertisements that quite literally showed ISIS fighters driving toward Jerusalem, and declaring: “The Left will surrender to terrorism. It’s us or them.” The message was that a victory for his opponents meant an invasion by ISIS.

A third (although not the last) tactic that Trump is borrowing from Netanyahu’s playbook is his numerous declarations that there is a widespread liberal media conspiracy to elect his opponent. Just three days before the elections...

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What Clinton gets so wrong about Israel-Palestine

The façade of a peace process is an obstacle to achieving a just peace, for which there can be no alternative.

Hillary Clinton believes that the façade of an Israeli-Palestinian peace process is preferable to no peace process at all, we learned this week from the presidential candidate’s private emails, hacked by Russia and published by WikiLeaks.

It’s hard to imagine a more troubling statement about Israel/Palestine from a politician who will in all likelihood be the next president of the United States, even if it represents only part of her thinking on the region.

Let’s examine the logic behind what the former secretary of state meant when she wrote of managing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that, “[a] Potemkin process is better than nothing.”

The absence of a peace process is what we already have today. It is a reality in which hundreds, sometimes thousands of (mostly Palestinian, but also Israeli) lives are stolen every year. It is a reality in which millions of people live under a foreign military regime and are denied the most basic human and civil rights. It is a reality in which constantly expanding Israeli settlements make the possibility of a sovereign Palestinian state less and less likely with each new home illegally built on Palestinian land. It is intolerable.

Things have gotten worse in the absence of a peace process, which has been the case for the majority of the past decade. But with no process to provide a horizon for change or hope, global demands for change have also increased. That has manifested primarily though international pressure on Israel to end the occupation, ranging from a boycott movement to small steps in the direction of very limited sanctions, like the European Union’s settlement product labels. None of those steps, alone or together, are a game-changer, but they are a strong signal from the world to Israel that it will not tolerate the status quo of occupation.

Alternatively, the façade of a peace process, or a peace process for the sake of the process itself, serves to deflect much of that international pressure on Israel. We saw that happen in real time just a few years ago when the European Union delayed the implementation of settlement product labels because there was a peace process taking place. Similarly, during the same round of peace talks, the Palestinian government was very open...

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The U.S. isn't going to do a damn thing to end the occupation

As long as Washington views ending the occupation as an Israeli problem instead of a Palestinian problem, it will never even consider using its leverage to do so.

The United States issued an unusually sharp rebuke on Wednesday to news that Israel is building a brand new settlement in the West Bank. The State Department sounded mad. The White House sounded mad. Nobody is going to do anything about it.

It’s not that the United States is powerless in the face of an Israeli government that for nearly four decades has refused to heed Washington’s and the entire international community’s demands to stop building and populating settlements. Both the United States and the United Nations have tools for compelling belligerent states into compliance.

The problem is a matter of perception will. The United States does not perceive the Israeli-Palestinian conflict — or rather, the Israel occupation of Palestinian land and the denial of basic Palestinian rights — as a Palestinian problem. To the United States, and much of the West, the impetus for ending the occupation and achieving a two-state solution is preserving Israel’s strategic interests, not protecting Palestinian rights.

“It is deeply troubling, in the wake of Israel and the U.S. concluding an unprecedented agreement on military assistance designed to further strengthen Israel’s security, that Israel would take a decision so contrary to its long term security interest in a peaceful resolution of its conflict with the Palestinians,” State Department Deputy Spokesperson Mark Toner said in a statement Wednesday.

“Israelis must ultimately decide between expanding settlements and preserving the possibility of a peaceful two state solution,” Toner continued. “Proceeding with this new settlement is another step towards cementing a one-state reality of perpetual occupation that is fundamentally inconsistent with Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state.”

That state of affairs is framed as an Israeli decision. But Israelis do not have the right — whether exercised through seemingly democratic means or unabashed military might — to choose to keep millions of people disenfranchised, living under a discriminatory and brutal military regime that maintains two sets of laws for people living side by side depending on their religion or ethnicity.

Nowhere does Toner, or the nearly identical statement issued by the White House, suggest that Israel’s perpetuation of the occupation, largely via its settlement enterprise, should be halted immediately because it systematically robs Palestinian men, women and...

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Abbas had to ask the Israeli army for permission to attend Peres's funeral

While leaders around the world coordinated their visits with the Foreign Ministry, the Palestinian president was forced to ask permission from an occupying army. The irony.

As a matter of diplomatic protocol, visits by heads of state are handled by the Foreign Ministry. The issue is so immutable that when the Israeli Foreign Ministry staff went on strike a few years, even a strategically important visit by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev had to be canceled.

Therefore, when former Israeli President Shimon Peres died earlier this week, the Israeli Foreign Ministry opened an emergency situation room to handle the expected flood of foreign leaders and heads of state lining up to attend the state funeral on Friday. All of the logistics of those visits, as is protocol, are being handled by the Foreign Ministry.

Except for one. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas had to make his request to the Israeli army. What irony that in order to attend the funeral of the man with whom he negotiated Palestinian autonomy and national self-determination, the Palestinian president had to ask the permission of an occupying army.

COGAT, the Israeli army’s branch dedicated to administering the occupation of Palestinian territories, reportedly passed along the request to the Prime Minister’s Office, which “approved” Abbas’s attendance.

Alternatively, Joint List chairman Ayman Odeh, the highest ranking elected Arab official in Israel, announced on Thursday that he would not be attending Peres’s funeral.

While heaping praising Peres for advancing peace and domestic relations with Palestinian citizens of Israel in the 1990s, Odeh told Army Radio that Peres’s record — including his role in Israel’s nuclear proliferation and Qana Massacre — has been “disastrous for other peoples, and on my people in 1948.”

Peres has a complicated legacy for Palestinians. As Nadia Naser-Najjab wrote here on Thursday:

For many people Peres represents the drive — and at times, hope — for peace. That is something to celebrate. But Shimon Peres’s legacy also embodies all of the reasons that peace appears more out of reach today than any point since he the secret talks he held with the PLO nearly a quarter-century ago in Oslo.

The fact that Abbas had to seek permission from the Israeli military — on...

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Why Netanyahu’s offer to visit the Palestinian parliament is pure BS

The Israeli prime minister tells the UN that he will ‘gladly come to speak’ to the Palestinian legislative body, which he conveniently forgets hasn’t convened in nearly a decade. Outstretched hand for peace or PR ploy?

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu loves being dramatic at the UN. From his bag of props to awkward moments of silence to general theatrics, he always makes sure to grab a few headlines when visiting the General Assembly in New York.

This year, one of Netanyahu’s biggest moments was when he invited Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to speak at the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, an ode to the visit by then Egyptian President Anwar Sadat that preceded a peace deal between the two countries. Netanyahu also offered to speak in front of the Palestinian parliament in Ramallah.

“President Abbas, instead of railing against Israel at the United Nations in New York, I invite you to speak to the Israeli people at the Knesset in Jerusalem,” Netanyahu said, addressing the Palestinian president directly. “And I would gladly come to speak to the Palestinian parliament in Ramallah.”

There are two major problems with Netanyahu’s otherwise seemingly bold step toward peace. There’s no way it would ever happen under current circumstances.

Firstly, as Chaim Levinson pointed out in Haaretz three years ago, when a grandstanding Netanyahu made a similar invitation to Abbas to speak at the Knesset, the Israeli prime minister simply doesn’t have the authority to make such an invitation.

Likewise, the prime minister’s expressed willingness to address the Palestinian parliament in Ramallah is possible only in the fantasy world of UN speeches and public manipulation.

The Palestinian parliament, the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC), has not convened in almost a decade. It also happens to be controlled by Hamas, which won an unimpeachable majority of seats — 74 of 132 — in the most elections, which were held in 2006. Israel considers Hamas to be a terrorist group, and refuses to recognize the legitimacy of its democratic mandate.

Which is not to say that Israel could not convene a quorum of Palestinian legislators should Netanyahu wish to give an address. In January of last year, Israel was holding a whopping 15 percent (20 legislators) of the entire Palestinian parliament in its prisons, according to prisoners’ rights group Addameer. (As of February 2016, that number was down to six — only 5 percent of the PLC.)

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Strip-searching Arab passengers at Israeli airports is illegal, rights group says

Not only are Arabs profiled at Israeli airports, it turns out the way security personnel search and follow them may also be illegal. Despite dozens of testimonies, Airport Authority denies utilizing strip searches at all.

Israeli airport security is notorious for profiling and discriminating against Arab passengers, from invasive and humiliating questioning and strip searches, assigning security officer to escort them as they walk through the airport after undergoing a security check, and more.

Could it be that authorities don’t actually have the legal authority to do all that?

In a letter to Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit and Israel Airports Authority (IAA) Director General Yaakov Ganot, civil rights organization Adalah says the strip searches are overtly illegal, and that no existing Israeli law authorizes the practice.

Additionally, most Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel, or any passengers for that matter, likely don’t feel they can refuse such treatment — especially if the consequence is not being allowed to board one’s flight, Adalah added.

“In most cases, therefore, [the passenger’s] consent to a strip search as part of a security check or submitting to the demand to be escorted by security personnel through the airport is consent that is obtained under duress,” explained Adalah attorney Fady Khoury.

The civil rights group is demanding that Israel stop these two specific practices, but also that the state compensate those Arab citizens who have been illegally subject to them in the past.

The Israel Airports Authority, in a response sent to Adalah and seen by +972, vehemently denied that the practices in question even exist.

Ample written testimonies by Arab passengers describing strip searches and security escorts at Israeli airports have been published on Israeli, Palestinian and international websites. A simple Google search for “Israeli airport security bra” delivers years worth of stories of Arab passengers being forced to remove their undergarments at Ben-Gurion Airport.

I have personally witnessed Israeli security officers escorting Arab passengers through the airport after completing “enhanced” security checks, and heard numerous stories of strip searches first hand.

“The Israel Airports Authority is denying the multiple accounts by individuals testifying to use of these practices – including stripping Arab passengers and escorting them to their planes – by its security personnel, and also chooses to ignore the central charge in our letter which holds that these practices lack all legal basis,” Khoury added.

The illegality of the practice is a “callous violation” of passengers’ rights, Khoury said, adding that “a mechanism to allow...

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+972 is an independent, blog-based web magazine. It was launched in August 2010, resulting from a merger of a number of popular English-language blogs dealing with life and politics in Israel and Palestine.

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