An Israeli border policeman fires teargas towards Palestinian demonstrators
An Israeli border policeman fires teargas towards Palestinian demonstrators during a protest against the expansion of the nearby Jewish settlement of Kdumim in the West Bank. Photo by AP

The Israel Defense Forces top brass did not wait for the cabinet’s decision regarding the report issued this week by the Edmond Levy committee. ‏(The report ruled that the entire West Bank is not occupied territory and therefore rendered the Oslo Accords null and void.‏)

GOC Central Command Nitzan Alon has signed an order enabling the Immigration Police to operate in the occupied territories, including Area A ‏(which is under the jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority‏). Chaim Levinson reported in Friday’s Haaretz that the Immigration Police are permitted to search Palestinians’ houses and detain any person the officer has “reasonable cause” to suspect of being there without a permit.

The IDF spokesman commented that the order authorizes the officers to transfer foreigners staying in the territories illegally ‏(according to Israeli law‏) to Israel’s territory for the continuation of law enforcement procedures in their case.

Two years ago the Supreme Court ordered the release of two international activists, whom the Immigration Police arrested in Ramallah and wanted to deport. Justice Asher Grunis ruled the officers had no authority to act outside Israel’s sovereign jurisdiction. He also ruled that, according to the interim agreement with the Palestinians from 1995, the IDF has no authority to conduct searches in Area A for illegal sojourners. Every time it seems that terrorists who carried out attacks on Israelis had come from that area, Israel stresses that the agreement places the responsibility on the Palestinian Authority, which has taken over all the security and civilian authorities.

A state claiming to be democratic and enlightened does not issue military orders to deport peace activists, who wish to protest against the iniquities of the occupation. The new order demonstrates the contradiction between the claim that the territories are not occupied, on the one hand, and the use of military orders on the other.

If the territories are not occupied, as the Edmond Levy report says, the Immigration Police do not require a military order to act beyond the Green Line. All that remains is to apply Israeli law to all West Bank residents and give them the right to vote and stand in elections.

The penetration of a civilian Israeli authority into Ramallah exhibits the huge abyss between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s declarations about wanting to advance the two-state solution, and the existing Israeli policy, which is heading toward a binational reality.