JERUSALEM (Aug. 28)
Speculation that the Palestine Liberation Organization may declare an independent state and establish a government in exile appears to have raised the expectations of Palestinians and emboldened them to challenge Israel’s military administration of the territories.
Palestinian lawyers are pursuing all legal means to prevent the deportation of 25 Palestinian activists, apparently following outside instructions.
The unprecedented legal campaign is fueled by the apparent success of the Palestinians at winning political points on the issue abroad. The U.S. government’s angry reaction to the planned deportations is the latest victory in the propaganda war.
Israel’s political echelons have rejected the American protests against what would be the largest deportation of Palestinians since 1967. Israeli leaders have reiterated their conviction that the deportations are justified and in accordance with all national and international laws.
But Palestinian lawyers have vowed to take authorities to the mat over the deportations. Whereas in the past potential deportees refrained from appeals, or withdrew them in the middle of the process, now all 25 of them have decided to exhaust all legal means.
The reason for this change of approach, according to Palestinian sources, is an awareness that never before has the Palestinian uprising enjoyed such widespread international popularity.
According to this school of thought, the declaration of an independent Palestinian state that would recognize Israel would create an international atmosphere that would make it more difficult for the Israelis to go ahead with the deportations.
APPEALS PROCESS DELAYED
For the moment, the appeals process against the deportations has been delayed, because Arab lawyers refuse to travel to the central prison in Nablus, where some of the potential deportees are being detained, while the city is under curfew.
But even if the military advisory boards in Gaza and Nablus reject the appeals of the accused, as they have in almost all previous deportation cases, the potential deportees still have the option of appealing to the High Court of Justice, Israel’s supreme court.
Israeli Cabinet ministers exchanged accusations at their weekly session Sunday over who leaked news of the deportations in the first place. Likud Minister Moshe Arens accused Foreign Minister Shimon Peres’ office for the leak, while Peres blamed Arens.
Despite the threat of deportations, the situation in the territories has changed little. A quarter of the residents of the West Bank and Gaza Strip spent the weekend under curfew.
Security forces on Sunday closed down the offices of the Union of Welfare Societies, as well as a journalists club in East Jerusalem.
IMPORTING FOREIGN WORKERS
On Friday they closed down the offices of the trade unions in East Jerusalem. These measures were taken in line with a general offensive by the authorities aimed at the organizers of the uprising.
On Sunday, the Cabinet added to these tactics yet another in the fight against the so-called “intifada”: the importation of thousands of foreign workers to replace Palestinians in the work force.
Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin backed the idea of bringing some 3,000 foreign laborers “to break the monopoly of Arab workers.”
Labor and Social Affairs Minister Moshe Katsav suggested that importing 500 workers would be sufficient. He warned against flooding the economy with foreign workers, particularly at a time when unemployment among Jewish laborers is on the rise.