Israel deports Palestinian activist to France despite objections from Paris | world news

Israel deported a Palestinian activist born in Jerusalem to France, despite objections from Paris.

Human rights lawyer Salah Hammouri was accused by Israel to have links with a banned militant group and to plan terrorist attacks.

But his supporters have accused Israel of “ethnic cleansing” and argue that his expulsion sets a dangerous precedent for other Palestinians in the east of the city, where most have residency but are not Israeli citizens.

This decision also creates a possible diplomatic row with France, which had repeatedly called on Israel not to carry out the expulsion, the Foreign Ministry insisting that “it must be able to exercise all its rights and carry out a normal life in Jerusalem, his city of birth and residence”.

Mr. Hammouri, 37, a resident of Jerusalem who holds French citizenship, had his residency revoked on December 1 for being active in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, classified by Israel and its allies Westerners as a terrorist group.

Israeli Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked said, “I am happy to report that justice has been served today and terrorist Salah Hammouri has been expelled from Israel.”

The Interior Ministry added in a statement: “During his life he organized, inspired and planned to carry out terrorist attacks for himself and for the organization against well-known citizens and Israelis.”

However, the campaign supporting Mr Hammouri said: “Such a decision constitutes a war crime under international humanitarian law of forcible deportation of a civilian from occupied territories.”

He added: “Israel’s ethnic cleansing has the city of Jerusalem, Salah’s hometown, in its sights, and his expulsion by Israel sets a dangerous precedent for all Palestinians in the city.”

Mr. Hammouri was previously detained by Israel between 2005 and 2011 after being accused of attempting to kill a prominent rabbi, but has always maintained his innocence.

Prisoner exchange

Mr. Hammouri was later released in a prisoner swap with the militant group Hamas.

He was recently held by Israel in administrative detention without charge in March.

His deportation was ordered when his detention order expired.

Israel’s Supreme Court had dismissed an appeal against the decision to revoke Mr. Hammouri’s residency status.

Last year, he was among six human rights activists whose mobile phones were found by independent security researchers to be infected with spyware made by the Israeli company NSO Group.

Israel captured East Jerusalem, home to the city’s most important religious sites, in the 1967 war and annexed the area.

He sees the entire city as his capital, while the Palestinians claim East Jerusalem as the capital of a future state.

Residence rights can be waived

While Jews in the city are automatically entitled to citizenship, Palestinians are granted residency status.

This allows them freedom of movement, the ability to work and access to services, but they are not allowed to vote in national elections.

Residency rights can be withdrawn if a Palestinian is found to be living outside the city for an extended period or in certain security cases.

Palestinians can apply for citizenship, but few do so, not wanting to be seen as accepting what they see as occupation.

Those who apply face a lengthy and bureaucratic process.

Jessica Montell, executive director of the Israeli human rights group HaMoked which represents Mr Hammouri, said other Jerusalem residents had been charged with breaching allegiance and had their residencies revoked in the past , but that they could not be deported because they had no other nationality.

“Because he holds a second nationality, it makes him more vulnerable to deportation,” Ms Montell said, adding that she expects similar cases to emerge more frequently with a new right-wing coalition that is expected to form the next Israeli government.


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