Firas Maraghy is from Jerusalem. He is currently resident in Berlin and has been on hunger strike since July 26th in front of the Israeli embassy building. The wickedly Kafkaesque situation in which he and his family have been placed by Israeli authorities is outlined below.
It forms the basis of a petition addressed to the Israeli Ambassador to Germany which we urge all readers and subscribers to both sign and publicise.
Mr Maraghy’s family has lived in Jerusalem for many generations. Because of Israeli legislation concerning Palestinian residents of Jerusalem he has neither a Palestinian nor an Israeli passport. He is stateless and is dependent on Israel for the issue of any residence or travel permits.
In September 2007 Mr Maraghy married Wiebke Diehl, who has German nationality, and he moved to Berlin so that the couple could live together during Wiebke’s studies in Germany. Their daughter, Zaynab Maraghy, was born in December 2009.
In May 2009 Mr. Maraghy went to Jerusalem to register the marriage. But the Israeli Home Office refused to do so, arguing that Mr Maraghy now lived abroad and had therefore lost his right to reside in Jerusalem; they referred to legislation that removes the residential rights of Palestinians after an absence of seven years, although he had only left Jerusalem 1 ½ years previously. (Whether this legislation is justified or not is neither here nor there for now.) He was however then issued with a travel permit, albeit only valid until May 2011, and only on condition that he then return to Jerusalem for a minimum period of 1 ½ years.
When his daughter Zaynab was born, Mr Maraghy requested the Israeli Embassy in Berlin to enter her name on his documents. On 17.04.2010 this was turned down on the grounds that her mother was German.
This refusal to register either his wife or daughter leaves Mr Maraghy with no choice but to either leave his family at the end of May 2011 to return to Jerusalem, so as not to lose his residency rights, or to stay with them and forfeit his rights. Because the Israeli authorities refuse to register either his marriage to Wiebke Diehl or the birth of their daughter, which would be legal requirements for them to reside in Jerusalem, but at the same time refuse to renew Mr Maraghy’s permit unless he returns to Jerusalem, they deny residency to Mr Maraghy’s family but force it on him.
It is almost impossible for someone attuned to a European justice system to imagine this situation. And as Mr. Maraghy points out, it contravenes article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Firas Maraghy sees no alternative but to go on hunger strike
For German speakers, here is an Neue Rhinishche Zeitung article; (if you are in Berlin or near, there is a rally/vigil tomorrow at 3.30pm.) JfJfP signatory and JSG member Charlie Pottins has blogged about Firas. If you are on Facebook, please join the group set up in support. To save you scrolling back to the top of the page, you can sign the petition here.