Israel's West Bank deportation rules

July 5, 2010
Richard Kuper

hamokedUpdate and Overview

Military Orders 1649 and 1650

Hamoked, 5 June 2010

Order 1650 presents a blank check for the military to use to deport or forcibly transfer from the west bank anyone they see fit, in accordance with changing policies and political situations. As such, the order must be viewed as illegal, regardless of how it is being implemented now, with heavy international spotlight currently placed on the issue.

Strong diplomatic leadership is needed to ensure that the order does not remain on the books for use at a later date. Because of the broad, vague language, this could have dire implications. While HaMoked is prepared to challenge the order through the court system, this poses a serious risk, as the Israeli Supreme Court is reluctant to overrule the State on issues the State claims are related to security. Your leadership is critical to ensuring that the order is revoked and does not remain active for use in other ways in the future.

There is a clear and immediate risk which must be addressed. HaMoked has received a response to its petition under the Freedom of Information Act for figures of Palestinians forcibly transferred to Gaza on the basis of their registered address, and those who may be considered at high risk for forcible transfer under the new orders. It shows that nearly 35,000 individuals must be viewed as being at high risk for forcible transfer to Gaza: 7919 Palestinians who entered the West Bank from Gaza under “Safe Passage” and remain in the West Bank to date; 23,348 Palestinians who traveled to the West Bank from Gaza between 2001 and April, 2010 and 935 prior to the end of the year 2000; and 2,479 Palestinians who were born in the West Bank but who have registered addresses in Gaza. This brings the total number of individuals who must be considered at risk for forcible transfer to Gaza to 34,681.

It is still unclear whether Order 1650 has been used as the legal basis to enact a deportation or forcible transfer since it went into effect. However, the military committee created by Order 1649 has been put into effect, and at least 8 cases are now being heard by the committee. In short, each of these cases concerns a Palestinian man who was arrested on criminal or security-related charges, served his prison term, and then remained in custody (an additional 1-3years after completion of the initial sentence) because the State issued a deportation order against him (according to the older version of the infiltration order). The State would like to deport these men to Jordan, and each case differs in terms of the legal status of the individual in Jordan. But regardless of their status in Jordan, it is important to remember that these are Palestinian men, with families and lives in the West Bank. Because of the enactment of Order 1649, the Supreme Court has remanded the cases back to the military committee, extending the men’s unjust imprisonment and creating an additional barrier to recourse in an independent, non-military body.

Contrary to the State’s claims, this cannot be seen as an improvement, and does not represent changes at the request of the Court. In fact, in several cases, the Supreme Court requested that there be a mechanism for judicial review of the holding of persons in detention pending deportation. Going far beyond this mandate, order 1650 deals with the definition of Infiltration, and the new military committee created in Order 1649 has given itself the additional power to review the deportation orders themselves, thereby creating a lower instance for all cases of deportation and obstructing the path to independent, non-military judicial review at the level of the Supreme Court.

Further, since an individual cannot appeal to the committee him or herself, but rather must be brought before it within eight days only if held in of detention, and since a deportation or forced transfer may be carried out after only 72 hours (and sometimes even less), there is no guarantee that individuals will have any form of judicial review before they are forcibly transferred. The State has claimed in several of its responses that it will “ensure” that all individuals held in custody will see the committee; however, this is merely a promise of the current political administration, and a provision ensuring judicial review does not exist in the orders. This is clearly illegal and unacceptable.

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