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A Vision for Palestinian Womens Rights Organizations based on the Global Study on the Implementation of UNSCR 1325
(Ten strategies for tackling issues pertaining to Women, Peace and Security)
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Date posted: May 23, 2012
By Amira Hass

An elephant will be sitting Wednesday in the courtroom of Supreme Court justices Asher Grunis, Salim Joubran and Noam Sohlberg. The elephant will occupy the places of the five plaintiffs, who will be absent: five women from the Gaza Strip who were accepted into Bir Zeit University in the West Bank. Four want to go on to a master's degree in gender studies.

Of these, three are in their 40s and one is in her 30s. The fifth is a young woman who graduated from high school with honors and has enrolled in law school. The justices will see the elephant in the room, but what's to be done with it?

An attorney representing the state will explain why it is opposed to granting these women permits to pass through Israel and passes to stay in the West Bank. The key word here, of course, is security.

"Since September 2000 the Palestinian terror organizations have been waging an armed confrontation against the State of Israel," reads the traditional formulation of the State Attorney's Office. "Restriction of movement" is a way to circumvent efforts "to expand the terror infrastructures from the Gaza Strip to Judea and Samaria." That is why Israel permits limited movement only to people "in humanitarian and exceptional cases."

The State Attorney's Office knows it is difficult to argue persuasively that four middle-aged women who have worked for years to advance women's rights in the Strip, and one young woman (the daughter of a well-known jurist), will export terror infrastructure to the West Bank. That's why it will remind the court that the state "has broad authority to determine who will enter its jurisdiction, and foreign nationals have no legal right to enter the sovereign territory of the state. All the more so when that individual is the resident of a hostile territory."

The argument is somewhat peculiar since the educational institution is in Bir Zeit, not Haifa. And for that reason the State Attorney's Office is quick to remind the justices of their previous rulings rejecting similar requests. There's no lack of them. Up to now the justices have not dared annoy the elephant.

The attorneys from Gisha - Legal Center for Freedom of Movement will remind the court that the Office of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories itself has reported on a shift in the policy of issuing permits in the past two years: They are now given for reasons other than just humanitarian ones.

Gisha's attorneys could quote from COGAT's website, which boasts that "8,411 traders from the Gaza Strip entered Israel for work meetings; most of them even visited Judea and Samaria, in order to strengthen the economic and trade links among Gaza, Israel and Judea and Samaria."

So why is it that traders are okay but university students are not? Because Israel is under American and international pressure to ease up on the economic side of the siege of Gaza (which costs foreign donor countries and their taxpayers a bundle), but not to respect Gazans' right to study in the West Bank, and because no Israeli university is alarmed by the prohibition.

Like the State of Israel, the Hamas education ministry doesn't like it when Gazan youth go to the West Bank or overseas. And for good reason: Political and religious indoctrination ebbs when horizons open up. If Israel genuinely wanted to weaken Hamas rule, it would respect freedom of movement, which has been restricted since 1991.

And that is the elephant in the room: Israel wants Hamas rule in the Gaza Strip because it guarantees the disconnect between the Strip and the West Bank. The Oslo Accords stipulate that the West Bank and Gaza Strip are a single geographic entity, and Israel did everything possible to separate them. Fatah and Hamas, whose competition deeply harms the Palestinian struggle for independence, followed the Israeli script perfectly.

The justices are set to contend today with the explicit argument that these five students pose a security threat to Israel. Will they ignore the elephant this time and acknowledge that the state's claim is fundamentally indefensible?

Read More ...

By: Phoebe Greenwood
Date: 27/05/2013
By: Jillian Kestler-D'Amours
Date: 27/05/2013
By: Sam Bahour
Date: 27/05/2013

Source: Haaretz
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