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.
Law would apply to Israeli citizens accused of terrorism and security [Getty]
Israel’s justice ministry proposed a law that would allow the country’s security forces to detain Israeli citizens in an interrogation center in the West Bank.
Critics of the proposal say the legislation would apply in practice only 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, Palestinian residents of Jerusalem – who are permanent residents but not citizens of Israel – are often held in West Bank facilities.
The bill has already passed a preliminary vote in the Israeli Knesset this week. The Ministry of Justice is expected to continue pushing forward legislation under the country’s new government, Haaretz reported.
This would allow the Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security agency, to detain Israeli citizens suspected of terrorism and other security charges at a new interrogation center in the West Bank.
The law would require the IDF chief to declare the interrogation center, which will be completed by the end of the year, a “detention center.”
The Minister of Security would also be required to authorize the detention of Israeli citizens at the facility.
MP Eitan Ginzburg, who formally introduced the bill on behalf of Justice Minister Benny Gantz, said the law would not apply exclusively to Palestinian citizens of Israel.
But critics of the legislation say that if approved, it will likely target Palestinians who face routine legal discrimination in Israel.
Earlier this year, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel called the bill “unconstitutional.”
Lawmaker Ofer Cassif, who is the only Israeli-Jewish member of the Palestinian-led United Arab List, said the bill violated international law.
“The explicit aim of the bill is to transfer citizens to a detention and detention center in occupied territory, territory which has been illegally seized and where people live under a clear apartheid regime,” Cassif said, Quoted by Haaretz.
“If the government achieves its wish with this dangerous bill, it will take one more step towards importing apartheid from the occupied territories to Palestinian citizens of Israel,” he continued.
Ahmad Tibi of the Joint List accused the government of having decided to lock up Palestinian citizens in the West Bank because “there is no more room” in Israeli prisons.
Israel arrested more than 1,500 Palestinian citizens of Israel last month.