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The Permit Regime

The Permit Regime

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Published by 972 Magazine
Human Rights Violations in West Bank Areas Known as the “Seam Zone”
Human Rights Violations in West Bank Areas Known as the “Seam Zone”

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Published by: 972 Magazine on Oct 07, 2013
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07/12/2014

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Para. 22.

97

impingement on the right to freedom of movement

leads to other human rights violations including the

rights to family life, health, education, property, a

livelihood, culture and community life, all accompanied

by a severe violation of the right to equality and dignity.

The human rights violations caused by the permit

regime have a destructive affect. It is, in effect, a

situation of creeping dispossession of West Bank

lands under the cover of a bureaucracy that operates

pursuant to military law with the Israeli Supreme

Court’s seal of approval.

This report sought to shed light on the reality created

by the permit regime and show how the military

bureaucracy works. Despite some changes, the permit

regime remains, in essence, a blanket restriction

on freedom of movement based on nationality.

Those who wish to use the narrow openings left by

this regime must stand frm, and weather lengthy,

Sisyphean procedures that culminate in the granting of

short-term permits with limited usability.

Over the years, evidence of the severe harm caused

to the Palestinian population by the permit regime

has mounted. The military’s narrow “criteria” for

entering “seam zone” lands and its near impenetrable

bureaucracy inevitably lead to a drastic drop in the

number of Palestinians who arrive at the part of the

West Bank located west of the wall and result in the

transformation of this area.

The permit regime reverses a basic premise in

international law, the premise that individuals enjoy

freedom of movement within their own countries.

The premise of the permit regime is that Palestinians

who wish to enter this part of the OPT must prove

that it is “necessary” for them to do so. Proving this

“necessity” is restricted to the manner in which the

military defnes the term, but even those who manage

98

to prove “necessity” enter a process that ends with

a time-limited permit that can only be used in specifc

localities, for specifc needs and often during specifc

days and hours. These permits are under a constant

threat of being revoked or confscated through a

mechanism that appears to be arbitrary, at least on

its face. In addition to all this, residents of the “seam

zone” are under constant surveillance. Every exit to

the part of the West Bank that is east of the wall may

be used against them as “incriminating evidence” and

may ultimately result in the confscation of their permit.

Due to the limited validity period of the permits,

Palestinians who wish to enter or remain in the

“seam zone” must renew their permits frequently.

This process, like the initial application process, is

also lengthy and while it is underway, applicants

are prohibited from entering the “seam zone.” The

human rights violations are, thus, exacerbated by a

bureaucratic obstacle course in which applications

are often rejected, whether out of hand, after review

or without review at all. A third to a quarter of all

applications are not approved and the applicants must

launch complicated appeal processes that often fail to

be exhausted.

The results of Israel’s policy are clear and immediate:

a decrease in the number of individuals who are

permitted to be present in the “seam zone”; physical

separation between Palestinians living in the “seam

zone” and the rest of the West Bank and their

economic, familial, social and cultural isolation. Another

effect is a change in agricultural practices in the area,

including a sharp decrease in cultivated farmland in

the “seam zone” which severely harms about 150

communities that are located east of the wall with

farmlands trapped to the west of it.

It seems that the permit regime expands and perpetuates

itself in what appears to be bureaucracy for the sake

99

of bureaucracy. This permit regime, at least in part,

serves no security purpose whatsoever. It is mostly

used to prevent illegal presence in Israel, while Israel

refuses to build a wall on the Green Line for this

purpose, for political reasons. There is concern that the

declining number of Palestinians who enter the “seam

zone” and the reduction in the scope of cultivated

farmland in the area are a desired outcome in the eyes

of those who make land policy in the West Bank.

Notwithstanding all this, in April 2011, the justices

of the Supreme Court rejected the general petitions

against the permit regime, though they recognized in

the judgment the severe harm this regime inficts on

the Palestinian population. The justices expressed their

hope and wish that this is a “temporary situation which

results from a temporary harsh reality.” More than a

year has passed since then and the permit regime is

about to enter its tenth year.

In view of the daily human rights violations and the

alarming fgures on the situation of the population

in the part of the West Bank Israel calls the “seam

zone,” which are a direct result of the permit regime

described in this report, HaMoked: Center for the

Defence of the Individual once again calls on the

authorities to adopt the advisory opinion of the

International Court of Justice and revoke the permit

regime in the West Bank

100

Appendix

The Separation
Wall and the
Permit Regime:
Timeline
149

18.07.2001

The Ministerial Committee for National
Security, headed by Prime Minister Ariel
Sharon, endorses the “seam zone” plan,
defned at this point as an area located on
both sides of the Green Line
. The plan purports
to prevent infltration and illegal presence in Israel

by Palestinians from the West Bank.

14.04.2002

Israel announces the immediate start of
construction of the separation wall: the
Cabinet clarifes that “this plan and its
implementation do not amount to a drawing
of national boundaries.”
The military and the
police are responsible for preventing the passage

of Palestinians from the West Bank into Israel

and Jerusalem – other than in humanitarian and

exceptional cases.

20.04.2002

First petitions against the wall fled by
villagers whose lands were requisitioned
for the construction of the separation wall
by virtue of military orders.
The villagers
assert that the seizure defes the norms of

international law, and constitutes an attempt to

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