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NLG Condemns Israeli Government Bill

National Lawyers Guild Condemns Israeli Governmental Bill Currently Being Discussed by the Knesset

Bill would deny compensation to Palestinian victims of Israeli acts or omission including war crimes perpetrated in the occupied Palestinian territories

Guild calls on the international community to remind Israel of its obligations under international human rights and humanitarian law

Bethlehem, West Bank—The National Lawyers Guild joins the BADIL Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights and Ittijah Union of Arab Community Based Associations based in Haifa, Israel to condemn an attempt by members of the Israeli government to pass a bill in the Knesset that seeks to deny Palestinian residents of the occupied Palestinian territories (“OPT”) compensation for the negligent acts and omissions and war crimes committed by Israeli occupation forces and other agents of the State of Israel in the OPT. The bill is scheduled to be discussed on Thursday, June 23, 2005 by the Knesset Constitution and Law Committee. It will then be submitted on the same day to the Knesset for a second and possibly a third reading. Once approved in a third reading, the bill will become law.

“This bill is the latest attempt by the Israeli government to exempt the State of Israel from the requirements of international law,” says Zaha Hassan, spokesperson for the National Lawyers Guild. “This bill is especially shameful at a time when Israel has managed to secure itself as a regional vice president in the UN General Assembly and is attempting to obtain a seat on the UN Security Council.” Hassan contends that “no country that shows such disdain for international law should hold such positions at the United Nations.”

Hussein Abu Hussein, a Palestinian attorney practicing in Israel and an expert on Israeli tort law, called the bill blatantly racist in design and effect before the Knesset Constitution and Law Committee which publicly reviewed the bill on June 15, 2005. “The bill proposes to prevent only those persons of Palestinian origin who happen to reside in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip from bringing a negligence action or a claim for violation of human rights and humanitarian law against Israeli soldiers and officials before Israeli courts,” asserts Abu Hussein. “Israeli Jews residing in settlements in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, which are all illegal under international law, are excluded from the reach of the bill.”

If passed, this bill will have retroactive effect and will be applicable to all incidents occurring since September 29th, 2000, the start of the second Palestinian uprising. “The retroactive nature of the law violates principles of international law as well as the laws of all civilized nations,” states Abu Hussein.

BADIL states that the bill is consistent with Israel’s long-standing policy of denying any meaningful compensation or restitution to Palestinians either inside or outside of Israel’s borders for actions of the Israeli military violating international law. The bill, if passed, may also effectively prevent restitution and compensation for damages incurred to Palestinians by the Wall currently under construction in the occupied West Bank in violation of the 2004 ruling of the International Court of Justice and related UN resolutions.

BADIL calls upon the international community to put pressure on Israeli MPs to oppose passage of the bill:

Constitution, Law and Justice Committee:
Fax: +972-2-6753199
E-mail: vdept4@knesset.gov.il

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