Israel/Palestine: France must denounce Israel’s expulsion of Salah Hamouri

Alain Bachellier via Wikicommons

5 December 2022. Several NGOs are calling on Emmanuel Macron, the French President, to act immediately against the expulsion of the French-Palestinian lawyer Salah Hammouri. The Israeli authorities have decided to expel Mr Hammouri from his hometown, Jerusalem, in violation of international law. Salah Hammouri lives in occupied East Jerusalem and is therefore entitled to the protections of international humanitarian law, including the fundamental prohibition on expulsion from occupied territory.

On 29 November 2022, the Israeli Supreme Court rejected the appeal of the French-Palestinian lawyer Salah Hamouri against the revocation of his right of residence in Jerusalem. On the same day, the Israeli authorities informed Mr Hammouri that he would be deported to France on 4 December 2022.

Mr Hamouri, who has been held for months under administrative detention without trial or charge, was born in Jerusalem and has lived there all his life. ACAT-France, Amnesty International France, the Platform of French NGOs for Palestine, Human Rights Watch and the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (International Federation for Human Rights-FIDH and World Organisation Against Torture-OMCT) ask Emmanuel Macron to immediately call on the Israeli authorities to release Salah Hamouri and affirm his right to reside in Jerusalem.

On 5 October 2022, the French Foreign Ministry again indicated that Salah Hamouri should be allowed to be released and live free in Jerusalem with his family. But at this stage, only a firm act by Emmanuel Macron can change the situation and allow Mr Hamouri, his wife, his two children and their family to exercise their right to live in his native Jerusalem.

The Israeli Ministry of the Interior notified Salah Hamouri on 3 September 2020 of its intention to revoke his permanent residence status on the grounds of "lack of allegiance" to the State of Israel, confirmed on 29 June 2021 by the adoption of recommendations to revoke his permanent residence. The hearing to contest this revocation was scheduled for 6 February 2023.

Salah Hamouri’s residency revocation for "lack of allegiance" sets a dangerous precedent for Palestinian rights defenders in Jerusalem, who could be systematically targeted on this basis. Under international humanitarian law, occupied populations have no duty of allegiance to the occupying power.

According to Israeli law, Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem are neither West Bank residents nor Israeli citizens, although they can apply for citizenship. Instead, they have permanent resident status, which allows them to reside in the city, work there and receive social benefits. This status is not actually permanent and can be revoked by the Israeli authorities. Israel has enacted legislation and several measures that allow the Israeli authorities to deprive Palestinians of their right and ability to live in the city if they do not swear allegiance to the State of Israel. It is on this basis that the Israeli authorities seek to expel Salah Hamouri.

The forcible removal of a Palestinian from East Jerusalem by the Israeli authorities, outside the occupied territory, constitutes deportation. Palestinians in East Jerusalem are protected, because of the Israeli occupation, by the Fourth Geneva Convention. The Convention generally prohibits such deportations of protected persons. Deportations of protected persons from occupied territory may constitute war crimes.

Mr Hamouri has been held since 7 March 2022 by the Israeli authorities under administrative detention without charge or trial. On several occasions, military courts have confirmed the renewal of his detention, without any substantive explanation being provided. His right to liberty and security, as guaranteed by Article 9 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, has been violated. His lawyers have never had access to his file, which remains secret.

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