Adalah briefs representatives of consulates and embassies on legal developments regarding the Palestinian minority in Israel and the Palestinians in the OPT
On 21 November 2007 and 28 November 2007, Adalah held two briefings on legal developments and the Supreme Court of Israel in 2007 regarding Palestinian citizens of Israel and Palestinians under occupation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT).
Adalah met with 18 representatives from Consular Offices, Representative Offices to the Palestinian Authority (PA), and international development and human rights organizations on 21 November 2007 at the Notre Dame Hotel in Jerusalem. Representatives from the European Commission and the Danish, German and Swiss Representative Offices participated in the briefing as well as representatives from 11 international organizations including: Oxfam Novib, the Norwegian Refugee Council, the Civic Coalition for Jerusalem, UNAIS, AMIDEAST, Al-Haq, EFE Spanish News Agency, United Against Torture Coalition, World Vision, Catholic Relief Services, and the Japan International Volunteer Center.
Attorney Hassan Jabareen, the Founder and General Director of Adalah, and Adalah Attorney Fatmeh El-‘Ajou spoke about recent Supreme Court jurisprudence regarding the OPT, especially the Gaza Strip. Attorney El-‘Ajou discussed major cases brought by Adalah and partner human rights organizations before the Supreme Court in 2007 including a challenge to the closure of the Karni crossing, the main gateway for essential foodstuffs and supplies, and Israeli-imposed restrictions on fuel and threats to cut the electricity to the Gaza Strip. Attorney El-‘Ajou also examined Israel's recent declaration of the Gaza Strip as a “hostile entity” and its legal implications regarding Israel's responsibility for the Palestinian civilian population as an occupying power. She discussed Israel's public portrayal of its supply of food and medicine to Gaza as humanitarian gestures instead of its duty as an occupier.
Attorney Hassan Jabareen spoke about the difficulty in bringing OPT cases before the Israeli Supreme Court and the Court's dismal record in upholding the rights of Palestinians in the OPT. Two decisions stand out in this regard - the “human shields” case brought by Adalah in 2002 and the “torture case” decided by the Supreme Court in 1999 after years of litigation - both of which deal with the integrity of the individual's body. Attorney Jabareen explained that the Supreme Court is the only official body in Israel that recognizes the occupation of the Palestinian territory, and thus applies international humanitarian law which affords less protections than Israeli constitutional law, which it applies to Jewish settlers residing in the same territory. The Supreme Court is interested in upholding its high status and reputation, Jabareen noted; the Court is concerned with upholding its legal integrity and thus cannot be seen as simply carrying out the orders of the state or expanding the principles of international humanitarian law concerning the OPT. However, the Court also fears coming under attack by the state and domestic public opinion. Attorney Jabareen continued his remarks with a discussion of legal strategy in bringing OPT cases before the Israeli Supreme Court.
On 28 November 2007, Adalah held a briefing for representatives of embassies in Israel at the offices of Al-Rabbita in Yaffa-Tel Aviv. Political officers from 15 countries participated in the briefing including: Norway, Portugal, Germany, Nigeria, Egypt, United Kingdom, Ireland, France, The Netherlands, South Africa, the Philippines, Canada, Argentina, Czech Republic as well as representatives from the European Commission.
At this event, Attorney Jabareen and Adalah Attorney Suhad Bishara presented major cases of discrimination against Palestinian citizens of Israel brought by Adalah before the Israeli courts in 2007, as well as key decisions achieved. They urged the embassy representatives to raise these issues as crucial causes of concern with their governments and with the Israeli government in order to defend and secure the rights of Palestinian citizens of Israel. Attorney Jabareen emphasized the need for embassy representatives to comment specifically on discrimination against the Arab minority in Israel, noting the absolute importance of checks and balances against discrimination in the law. Some of the major cases discussed concerned the new amendment to the Citizenship Law, which bans Palestinian citizens of Israel from marrying Palestinians from the OPT and other “enemy states” including Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Iran and living together in Israel; the state's marketing of Jewish National Fund (JNF) land solely to Jewish citizens and new proposals for a land-swap between the state and the JNF; increased home demolitions in the Naqab (Negev) in an attempt by the state to forcibly uproot and relocate Arab Bedouin citizens of Israel from their ancestral lands; and the policies of admissions committees for hundreds of community towns in Israel, which effectively exclude Palestinian citizens of Israel from residing in these areas as well as Eastern Jews (Mizrahim), gays, and people with disabilities. Attorney Bishara spoke about the “regime of segregation” employed by the state in its land allocation and planning policies, and Attorney Jabareen noted that economic and cultural segregation exists in Israel between Arab and Jewish citizens with or without a separation wall like in the West Bank.
Attorney Jabareen also spoke about Adalah's work on its “Democratic Constitution” and the importance that Israel ensures equal rights for Arab citizens in its constitution-making process. He drew parallels between the legal struggle against apartheid in South Africa and the legal struggle against institutionalized discrimination in Israel.