The Israeli Supreme Court Shields Hamas Members from Punishment

Sept. 20 2017

The Israeli supreme court recently ruled on a case involving four Palestinian residents of eastern Jerusalem who in 2006 took positions in the Palestinian government on behalf of the Change and Reform party: an organ of Hamas. As they are not Israeli citizens—east Jerusalemites have a special status—the government responded by revoking their residency rights. The four appealed the decision to the courts and now, after nearly a decade, the highest court has ruled in their favor. Evelyn Gordon finds the conclusion to be “mind-boggling.”

Although the Entry into Israel Law allows the government to revoke anyone’s residency rights “at its discretion,” [the court] stipulated that the law shouldn’t be used to revoke residency for “breach of trust,” [which is what the authorities cited as grounds for the expulsion]. Why? Because most east Jerusalem Palestinians were born in Israel and had lived there all their lives, so they deserve greater protection than migrants, who have previously lived elsewhere and whose roots in Israel are therefore shallower.

That east Jerusalem Palestinians merit greater protection than, say, labor migrants, is obviously true. . . . But in this particular case, the court’s otherwise valid distinction is completely irrelevant. After all, the case wasn’t about ordinary east Jerusalem residents, who, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, could reasonably be assumed by the court to view Israel as their primary home. It was specifically about people who chose to serve in a foreign government on behalf of a terrorist organization, and who thereby declared that their allegiance to this foreign entity superseded their allegiance to Israel. . . .

Even the majority justices appeared to realize how irrelevant their argument actually was. In a truly stunning statement, Justice Uzi Vogelman, who wrote the main opinion, said, “Our interpretative decision didn’t focus on the petitioners’ case specifically, but on an interpretive question of general applicability to residents of east Jerusalem.” Quite how any court can decide a case without focusing on that case “specifically” is beyond me.

Ostensibly, the case at least has limited application. After all, how many east Jerusalem Palestinians are going to become Hamas legislators or cabinet members? But in reality, the implications are broad, because if even swearing allegiance to a foreign government on behalf of a terrorist organization committed to Israel’s destruction isn’t enough to make a Palestinian lose his Israeli residency and its attendant benefits, what on earth would be?

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Read more at Evelyn Gordon

More about: East Jerusalem, Hamas, Israel & Zionism, Israeli Supreme Court

UN Peacekeepers in Lebanon Risk Their Lives, but Still May Do More Harm Than Good

Jan. 27 2023

Last month an Irish member of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) was killed by Hizballah guerrillas who opened fire on his vehicle. To David Schenker, it is likely the peacekeeper was “assassinated” to send “a clear message of Hizballah’s growing hostility toward UNIFIL.” The peacekeeping force has had a presence in south Lebanon since 1978, serving first to maintain calm between Israel and the PLO, and later between Israel and Hizballah. But, Schenker explains, it seems to be accomplishing little in that regard:

In its biannual reports to the Security Council, UNIFIL openly concedes its failure to interdict weapons destined for Hizballah. While the contingent acknowledges allegations of “arms transfers to non-state actors” in Lebanon, i.e., Hizballah, UNIFIL says it’s “not in a position to substantiate” them. Given how ubiquitous UN peacekeepers are in the Hizballah heartland, this perennial failure to observe—let alone appropriate—even a single weapons delivery is a fair measure of the utter failure of UNIFIL’s mission. Regardless, Washington continues to pour hundreds of millions of dollars into this failed enterprise, and its local partner, the Lebanese Armed Forces.

Since 2006, UNIFIL patrols have periodically been subjected to Hizballah roadside bombs in what quickly proved to be a successful effort to discourage the organization proactively from executing its charge. In recent years, though, UN peacekeepers have increasingly been targeted by the terror organization that runs Lebanon, and which tightly controls the region that UNIFIL was set up to secure. The latest UN reports tell a harrowing story of a spike in the pattern of harassment and assaults on the force. . . .

Four decades on, UNIFIL’s mission has clearly become untenable. Not only is the organization ineffective, its deployment serves as a key driver of the economy in south Lebanon, employing and sustaining Hizballah’s supporters and constituents. At $500 million a year—$125 million of which is paid by Washington—the deployment is also expensive. Already, the force is in harm’s way, and during the inevitable next war between Israel and Hizballah, this 10,000-strong contingent will provide the militia with an impressive human shield.

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Read more at Tablet

More about: Hizballah, Lebanon, Peacekeepers, U.S. Foreign policy