CAIRO: Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit said that Egypt plans to stand up against an Israeli military order that paves way for the expulsion of thousands of Palestinians who lack proper identification from the West Bank, according to local news reports.
After a meeting with Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat Saturday, a week after Israel announced its disputed eviction policy, Aboul Gheit slammed the decision, saying that it breaches the foundations on which the peace process is built.
“Aboul Gheit is bringing up the issue in the international arena, Ambassador Hassan Eissa of the Egyptian Foreign Ministry told Daily News Egypt, adding that the foreign minister spoke to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, calling on Palestinian NGOs to step up pressures against the order.
Last week, the daily Haaretz reported that a new military order aimed at preventing infiltration into the West Bank will come into force. According to the order, Palestinians who lack proper residency will face deportation or will be prosecuted and may carry out prison sentences of up to seven years.
Palestinians at risk include Gaza-born citizens living in the West Bank as well as foreign spouses of West Bank residents.
“It is like a sword hanging over the heads of Palestinians living in the West Bank, said Eissa.
The new orders are an amendment to a 1969 order which was aimed at infiltrators sneaking into Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories from neighboring states. The new order broadens the definition of an infiltrator to anyone in the West Bank without a permit.
“I believe that the purpose of this decision is to test the reaction of the Arab nations, Palestine and the international community, Eissa told Daily News Egypt, stressing on the fact that the order, which has not yet been implemented, was issued by the head of Israeli forces in the West Bank, and not by the country’s PM or a higher ranking army chief.
In a statement released Saturday, Aboul Gheit reportedly blamed Israel for hindering the peace process by previously announcing the building of new settlements in annexed East Jerusalem and ordering the eviction of Palestinians from the West Bank, insisting that it bears the sole responsibility for stalled talks.
Eissa said that Aboul Gheit urged Abbas to take the issue to the UN’s Security Council, but suggested that it might fall through since the US will most likely use its veto power in Israel’s favor.
Before the outbreak of the second Intifada in 2000, thousands of Palestinians moved from Gaza to the West Bank in search for better standards of living. Their IDs state that they are Gazans, however, which puts them at the helm of Palestinians threatened by the recent order.
Meanwhile, an Israeli official told AFP that the order would “affect very few people as it was meant for people who were staying in the occupied West Bank illegally.
Secretary General of the Arab League Amr Moussa said that in issuing such order Israel “places itself above international law. Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad accused Israel of adopting “a policy of ethnic cleansing.
On Wednesday, an Israeli human rights group urged the international community to press the Jewish state to revoke the order.
“The Fourth Geneva Convention imposes a complete ban on forced removal of civilians from their homes, a prohibition whose violation is considered a grave violation of the convention, the Hamoked Center for the Defense of the Individual said.
“We call on all state parties to the convention to take immediate action to have the (Israeli military order) revoked, the group said in a statement.
Meanwhile, the 22-member Arab League called on Palestinians on Tuesday to refuse to heed amended orders from the Israeli military that could trigger deportations from the occupied West Bank.
Last week, around 200 Palestinians demonstrated in the West Bank city of Ramallah against the new eviction policy, chanting “Smash Israeli apartheid, free Palestine. – With agencies