Palestinian on hunger strike in Germany
Joanna Lemonnier, Press TV, Berlin
Palestinian on Hunger Strike in Berlin for Family Rights in East Jerusalem
AL-HAQ PRESS RELEASE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
12 August 2010
As a Palestinian NGO committed to the promotion and protection of human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), Al-Haq is deeply concerned about Firas Al-Maraghi’s hunger strike that he has been holding since 26 July 2010 opposite the Israeli embassy in Berlin, Germany. Firas, a Palestinian resident of occupied East Jerusalem who is married to a German national, is protesting a decision which was taken by the Israeli embassy to ban the couple’s new-born daughter from being registered as a Jerusalem resident. This decision breaches Firas’s right to live in Jerusalem with his family.
Firas was born and raised in the neighbourhood of Silwan in East Jerusalem to a Palestinian family with deep roots in the city. In 2007, Firas temporarily moved to Berlin to be with his wife, who is completing her doctoral thesis there. Since then, Firas has regularly revisited Jerusalem. Knowing that they would return to Jerusalem after the completion of his wife’s PhD, Firas refuses to apply for any other passport or travel document that might strip away his right to hold the laissez-passer, a travel document issued by Israel to Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem.
Firas has been on hunger strike for 18 days, drinking only water, refusing to end his strike until the Israeli embassy in Berlin revokes its denial of registering Firas’s daughter as Jerusalem resident.
Israel’s refusal to allow family unification is not an isolated case. Since 1967, Israel has engaged in a deliberate policy of reducing the number of Palestinians residing in East Jerusalem while facilitating the increase of the Jewish population in the city. To this end, Israel has used various legal and administrative means aimed at preventing the unification of Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem with non-resident spouses and children.
In the past, Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem were able to apply to the Israeli Ministry of Interior for family unification for their spouses and children in order to legally reside in East Jerusalem and Israel with their families (a requirement that does not apply to Jewish citizens and immigrants).
In 2000, Israel de facto suspended all family unification procedures, impacting tens of thousands of Palestinians and their foreign spouses. Moreover, since 2003, the Knesset (Israel’s parliament) has regularly extended the discriminatory “Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law of 2003” (most recently on 21 July 2010). This law formally denies family unification of Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem with their spouses and children from other parts of the OPT or abroad. Consequently, these families are prevented from living together in Israel and occupied East Jerusalem, resulting in the separation and forced relocation of such families.
In its recent concluding observations, the Human Rights Committee has asked for the “Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law of 2003” law, which is ostensibly a temporary provision, to be revoked. The Human Rights Committee’s concern with regards to this issue stems from the fact that Israel’s ban on family unification is in blatant violation of international law, in particular the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Article 23(1) of ICCPR states that, “The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.” Israel, as the Occupying Power in the OPT, must respect Article 27 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which states that, "protected persons are entitled, in all circumstances, to respect for their persons, their honour, their family rights.”
Israel uses a fundamentally flawed security rationale to justify its illegal policy. While international law recognises Israel's right to protect its citizens, Israel remains obligated to act in accordance with the principle of proportionality. Israel’s total ban on family unification for Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem is not only inherently discriminatory but also disproportionate. Israel’s security rationale is further undermined by the government's clear statements with regard to ensuring the demographic superiority of the Jewish people within illegally annexed East Jerusalem. Israel’s policy of denying Palestinians the right to family unification hinders the prospects of a two-state solution where East Jerusalem is the capital of a future Palestinian state.
- Ends -
Updated August 26, 2010
Firas Maraghy Hunger Strike:
"Natush2 | August 24, 2010
To support Firas please sign the petition:
Join the facebook group "Solidarität mit Firas Maraghy - Solidarity with Firas Maraghy".
More info on East Jerusalem:
General description of Firas's case:
Firas Maraghy, a Jerusalem native and current Berlin resident, has been on hunger strike in front of the Israeli Embassy in Berlin since 26 July, demanding Jerusalem residency rights for his baby daughter and the right to keep his own.
Maraghy moved to Berlin in September 2007 after marrying his wife, Wiebke Diehl, a German national. The couple chose to live in Germany so that Diehl could complete her studies. In December 2009 when their daughter Zaynab was born, Maraghy requested that the Israeli Embassy in Berlin enter her name on his documents. His request, however, was denied on 17 April of this year, on the grounds that her mother was German.
The situation is further complicated by the fact that Israel's Ministry of Interior in Jerusalem also refused to register Firas and Wiebke's marriage in May of 2009, stating that because Maraghy now lives abroad he has jeopardized his own Jerusalem residency.
"My father was born before the establishment of the State of Israel. My grandfather was born before the Balfour Declaration. And I am going to lose my right to be in Jerusalem just because I have stayed in Germany for a few years?" he said.
Israeli legislation removes resident rights of Jerusalemite Palestinians after an absence of seven years, though Maraghy has lived in Germany for less than two. As a Jerusalemite, Maraghy has neither a Palestinian nor an Israeli passport. He is considered a resident of Israel and has a Jerusalem ID. In May 2009 he was issued a travel permit, valid only until May 2011, on condition that he then return to Jerusalem for a minimum period of 1½ years.
If Maraghy does not return to Jerusalem, he will permanently lose his residency rights and if he does return, he will be forced to abandon his daughter for at least 1½ years. Maraghy does not want to move to Germany permanently, but hopes to be able to bring his daughter and wife to Jerusalem legally, with his daughter living as a resident.
"How can I plan for the future when I need to return to Jerusalem so they don't revoke my residence? How can I commit to a job here when I don't know if I can come back the next time I visit? How can I convince my wife to move to Jerusalem with me when she might not be able to leave Israel for four years until she receives permanent resident status?" he asked.
"Ambassador Yoram Ben-Zeev came and spoke with me during the first week," Maraghy said, speaking about his hunger strike. "He had an offer for me. He said, 'Let me see what I can do in your case. In the meantime, stop your hunger strike. You can always renew it later.' I told him, 'I have a better idea. Try doing what you can; I will continue my hunger strike in the meantime. Maybe this can even help you.'"
The German section of the Jewish Voice for a Just Peace in the Middle East has sponsored a petition on Firas Maraghy's behalf. To sign the petition visit:
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