Palestinian politician refuses to succumb to Israeli expulsion threats

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Deemed a “threat to the security of the area” Israelis give Khalida Jarrar 24 hours to leave Ramallah or face forced deportation

An image of Khalida Jarrar during a meeting (flikr/Magne Hagesaeter)
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Thursday 12 February 2015 21:45 UTC
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In defiance of an order demanding her expulsion from the city, Palestinian politician, Khalida Jarrar remains in Ramallah again today - and she is pledging to stay. Since she received the demand that she leave to Jericho nearly one week ago, the campaign to support the leader in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine continues to gather momentum, with support from Palestinian, Arab and international groups.

The activity, however, coincides with an apparent crackdown on PFLP activists, as Israeli forces arrested 12 leaders from the party in the course of Monday night.

Surrounded by supporters and media at a protest at the Palestinian Legislative Council Building on Thursday, the leader in the PFLP called for resistance and solidarity among the Palestinian people. The courtyard of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) building, she said, will now serve as a permanent protest and organising space.

“This is our house, as parliamentarians," Jarrar, who is also a member of the Legislative Council, told Middle East Eye. "I'm showing that I'm refusing the Israeli order. This is my place where I have to work, and isn't their choice to tell me where to go. It's against international law to take people from the place where they live, where they have their family and children, and to just drop them somewhere else."

It was about one thirty in the early hours of Wednesday morning, witnesses say, that Israeli forces surrounded Jarrar's home before issuing her with a document demanding she leave to Jericho. In a statement, Palestinian human rights group, Addameer said “an Israeli captain” handed over an order “which states that Jarrar must not leave the district of Jericho for the next six months and can only leave with the express permission of the Israeli military commander in the West Bank.”

Jarrar refused to sign the order, which was based on “secret information” that she “is a threat to the security of the area” and gave her 24 hours to leave.

A source from the Israeli Defence Forces denied that the deportation order was issued by the Israeli military, and said that the military presence functioned as a perimeter force when the deportation order was issued. They did not clarify, however, where the order was issued from. A photograph of the military order in Hebrew, and a translation, was published on the webpage of the Samidoun Prisoner Network.

Since the order was issued on Tuesday, Jarrar and her allies have been continually organising, both against the demand itself and for further Palestinian solidarity and action. Yesterday a rally was held at Ramallah’s UN building, and in Jenin today female supporters of Jarrar held a demonstration.

"I am here as a Palestinian citizen,” Omar Shehade, a political writer, told MEE at Thursday’s protest“I’m here to support this step, taken by the Legislative Council, to stand against the Israeli occupation’s move to send Khalida Jarrar to Jericho. The order is a violation of international law and the Geneva Conventions, and a move to terrorise the Palestinian people.”

Jarrar said she understood the deportation order as a move as indicative of intimidation and control. “First of all it’s a kind of punishment,” she told MEE. “Second it’s a message, not only to me but to all parliamentarians and active leaders, that if you say anything, we will punish you. That they want to take you from your environment - from there, where I work, and where we have many activities and a great deal of influence.”

A member of the PLC, Jarrar is a staunch critic of negotiations between Palestine and Israel, and in interviews, statements and protests she has called for an immediate end to talks. The leftist PFLP, of which she is a leader, rejects the peace process in favour of armed resistance for the whole of historic Palestine: its current leader, Ahmad Sa’adat, is currently imprisoned in Israel for being the head of an “illegal terrorist organisation.”

Among Palestinian civil society, political organisations and officials, Jarrar’s deportation order has drawn condemnation. Addameer, of which Jarrar is a board member, said the order to expel her violates Article 42 of the Geneva Convention IV. Applied to the occupied Palestinian territory, this states that the “internment or placing in assigned residence of protected persons may be ordered only if the security of the detaining power makes it absolutely necessary.” In a statement, the Palestinian Liberation Organisation Executive Committee strongly condemned the order, calling it “barbaric” and reflecting the “arrogance” of the Israeli occupation.

But the development also highlights coordination between Israeli forces and the Palestinian Authority - as several organisations and individuals have been keen to stress.

“Jarrar lives in Ramallah, which according to the Oslo Agreements between the Palestinian Liberation Organization and the occupation, is considered “Area A” and under complete Palestinian control,” Addameer said in its statement. “By allowing Israeli occupying forces to enter Ramallah means that in effect the so-called 'security co-ordination' between Palestinian Authority security forces and Israeli occupying forces allowed for the expulsion of an elected representative of the Palestinian people, an elected representative who has continuously called for an end to such 'coordination'.”

At the protest in support of Jarrar, Fatah’s Jamal Abu al-Rub stressed that a military order demonstrated the lack of authority even in the areas of the West Bank that are designated under Palestinian control.

In Ramallah on Thursday, Jarrar called on members of the Palestinian government to resist the order. “They should refuse this. Not only by issuing a statement, but by taking action,” she said.

“Until now I’ve had no connection with the president or with the government,” Jarrar continued. “Rami Hamdallah phoned me yesterday, but he didn’t say what action they’re going to take. They have the responsibility to take action, because it affects them too. But what I really expect, I expect from the people, from the unions, from the popular movement.”

Jarrar’ deportation order coincided with renewed air strikes on the Gaza Strip, following the end of a five day ceasefire, which prompted further unrest in the West Bank. Some 38 Palestinians were reported killed in Gaza on Thursday alone, including three senior Hamas commanders who were killed in Rafah. Despite the bombings, thousands of people took to the streets for the mens’ funerals, and the PFLP expressed praise and sadness for the men, who it described as “three of the greatest leaders of the resistance in Gaza.”

At the protest in Ramallah, both Jarrar and her supporters echoed solidarity with Gaza and stressed a connection between the bombings and developments in the West Bank. "The Palestinian people are looking to this step as another phase of the aggression in Gaza,” Omar Shehade told Middle East Eye. “It is an attempt to finish with the Palestinian rights and to push the Palestinians to raise a white flag.

“We would like to say, as Palestinian citizens, that these measures will not break the Palestinian struggle, the Palestinian will to continue their struggle to self-determination and establishment of the Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital,” he said. “Israeli aggression and Israeli leaders - this mafia that controls the situation - will not break the Palestinian will. The Palestinians will achieve their victory sooner or later.”