Israel to detain Palestinian citizens in West Bank facility

Israel wants to detain Palestinian-Israeli citizens in West Bank interrogation facility
2 min read
13 June, 2021
The Israeli government is seeking approval for legislation that would allow the Shin Bet to interrogate Palestinian citizens of Israel at a West Bank facility.
The law would apply to Israeli citizens accused on terror and security charges [Getty]

Israel's justice ministry has proposed a law that would allow the country's security forces to hold Israeli citizens in a West Bank interrogation facility.

Critics of the proposal say the legislation would in practice only apply to Palestinian citizens of Israel - who face widespread discrimination.

Current law does not allow Israeli citizens to be detained in the occupied West Bank. In practice, however, Palestinians residents of Jerusalem - who are permanent residents but not citizens of Israel - are often detained in West Bank facilitiies.

The bill has already passed a preliminary vote in Israel's Knesset this week. The justice ministry is expected to continue pushing the legislation under the country's new government, Haaretz reported.

It would allow the Shin Bet, Israel's internal security agency, to hold Israeli citizens suspected of terrorism and other security charges at a new interrogation facility in the West Bank.

Perspectives

The legislation would require the head of Israel's military to declare the interrogation facility, which will be completed by the end of the year, a "lockup facility".

The security minister would also be required to authorise the detention of Israeli citizens at the facility.

MK Eitan Ginzburg, who formally presented the bill on behalf of Justice Minister Benny Gantz, has said the law would not apply exclusively to Palestinian citizens of Israel.

But critics of the legislation say if approved it will likely target Palestinians who face routine legal discrimination in Israel. 

Earlier this year, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel described the proposed legislation as "unconstitutional".

Lawmaker Ofer Cassif, who is the sole Jewish Israeli member of the Palestinian-led Joint List, said the bill amounted to a violation of international law.

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"The bill’s explicit goal is to transfer citizens to a lockup and prison facility in occupied territory, territory that was seized illegally and where people live under a clear apartheid regime," Cassif was quoted as saying by Haaretz.

"If the government gets its wish with this dangerous bill, it will be taking another step toward importing apartheid from the occupied territories to Palestinian citizens of Israel," he went on to say.

Ahmad Tibi of the Joint List accused the government of moving to lock up Palestinian citizens in the West Bank as "there’s no more room" in Israel's prisons. 

Israel arrested more than 1,500 Palestinian citizens of Israel last month.