April 22, 2010

Israeli military order further blocks peace process

by Benjamin Graham

The World Council of Churches (WCC) has expressed dismay at a new Israeli military order re-defining what it means to be an “infiltrator” in the occupied Palestinian territories.

Rev. Dr. Olav Fykse Tveit, WCC general secretary, said the new measures could be “a severe obstacle toward the process for a just peace.”

The new definition “will affect tens of thousands of Palestinians and potentially confine them to their villages and towns creating an atmosphere of fear in the occupied territories,” Tveit said.

Previously, the Israeli military defined an infiltrator as someone who unlawfully entered the occupied area.

Under the amended definition, an infiltrator is “a person who entered the area unlawfully following the effective date, or a person who is present in the area and does not lawfully hold a permit”.

Tveit said the amendment contravenes international law.

“The Israeli government should immediately rescind this order because it is in contravention of the fourth Geneva Convention and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,” he said.

“As a signatory to these international instruments Israel has a legal and moral responsibility to work within their frameworks.

“Nobody, including the Palestinians, should be denied their basic human rights, that is, to be able to move and have a normal life.”

The redefinition was also criticised by the Palestine-Israel Ecumenical Forum, who called the order “a flagrant display of military arrogance” that will cut off Palestinians from vital economic, health, education, and social centres.

Nine Israeli human rights organisations have protested against the redefinition in a letter to the Israeli defence minister.

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