Press Releases 

Don't deport them - talk to them!

Tomorrow (Monday), the Supreme Court will hear the appeal of Palestinian parliamentarians from East J'lem, threatened with expulsion; Israeli peace activists to be present. Avnery: They were democratically elected, Jerusalem is their city where they have the right to live. Don't deport them - talk to them!

Tomorrow (Monday, August 6) at 9:00 am the Supreme Court will hear the appeal of four members of the Palestinian Legislature, whom the government seeks to deport from East Jerusalem - where they have lived all their lives. The bench hearing this appeal will be headed by Supreme Court President Dorit Beinish.

Former Knesset Member Uri Avnery, as well as other activists of Gush Shalom and of other peace and human rights organizations, intend to be present during the proceedings. One of the four appealing Palestinian parliamentarians - Mohammed Abu Tir – is for the past two months detained by the Jerusalem police, on charges of "an illegal stay" after he refused demands to leave Jerusalem "voluntarily". The other three - Mohammed Totah, Khaled Abu Arafa, and Ahmed Atoun – have found refuge at the Red Cross offices in East Jerusalem, where – though there is no formal extraterritorial status - the police refrains from entering to detain them.

Uri Avnery says that the four have lived all their lives in East Jerusalem and it is their city/ The right to live there is not "a favor" that the state of Israel is supposed to graciously grant them, but a basic right enshrined in International Law. They have not been not charged with any criminal offence. Their sole sin is being elected to the Palestinian Legislature in 2006, in democratic elections held under international supervision and with the approval of the Israeli government at the time. The results of the elections were quite different from expectations - as sometimes happens in free elections. During most of the years when they were supposed to function as parliamentarians and represent their constituents were spent in Israeli prison, where they were place by those who did not like the elections results. As soon as they were released in June this year, the government revoked their right to reside in their city of Jerusalem and launched deportation proceedings.

"The policy of ignoring and persecuting Hamas, completely excluding it from talks and negotiations, is fundamentally wrong and dangerous. In order to achieve a stable peace agreement, such a peace must include the entire Palestinian people, or at least their overwhelming majority. Boycotting and persecuting the Hamas Movement, which represents a large part of the Palestinian people, undermines in advance any agreement which might be reached - even if a miracle happens and the negotiations launched in Washington do produce an agreement. The alternative for talks and negotiations which also includes the elected political representatives of Hamas is a continuation of conflict and of harsh bloodshed" says Avnery.

"We hope that the Supreme Court will revoke the act of injustice and folly whicxh the government is trying to effect. The Minister of the Interior should be altogether deprived of the authority to deny the right of residence to Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem. They are being treated as if they were people who came to Israel and whom Israel is at liberty to accept or reject, or to put to them all kinds of draconian conditions for their being allowed to stay. The reality is that it is not they who came to Israel – it is Israel which came to them, to the city where they have lived for generations and in which they have every right to go on living. This is an absolute right which may not be infringed.