Israel deports French-Palestinian lawyer Salah Hamouri over security concerns

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Israel deported French-Palestinian human rights lawyer Salah Hamouri on Sunday, accusing him of security offenses against the state of Israel, the Israeli interior ministry said in a statement.

Hamouri was escorted to the airport early on Sunday morning where he boarded a flight to France with his campaign saying there was no legal recourse for him to take.

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Hamouri, 37, a Jerusalem resident without Israeli citizenship, had his residency status revoked on December 1 on charges that he was active in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), classified by Israel and its Western allies as a terror group.

“During his life he organized, inspired and planned to commit terror attacks on his own and for the organization against citizens and well-known Israelis,” a statement from the interior ministry said.

A statement from the Hamouri campaign called the deportation a “war crime” and said it constitutes a breach of international law.

“Wherever a Palestinian goes, he takes with him these principles and the cause of his people: his homeland carried with him to wherever he ends up,” Hamouri said in a statement.

Hamouri was most recently detained by Israel under administrative detention without charge on March 7 until December 1 when Israel revoked his residency and stated he would be deported.

He was previously detained by Israel between 2005 and 2011 after being accused of attempting to assassinate Sephardi rabbi Ovadia Yossef, the founder of the ultra-Orthodox Shas party, but has always maintained his innocence.

Hamouri was released in December 2011 as part of an exchange of Palestinian prisoners for Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier released in October 2011 after five years in captivity in the Gaza Strip at the hands of Hamas.

Hamouri holds citizenship of France through his mother.

France’s foreign ministry denounced his deportation and said that the French government had actively sought to defend his rights and has been in contact with Israeli authorities multiple times.

“We condemn the Israeli authorities’ decision against the law to deport Salah Hamouri to France,” the ministry said in a statement.

The overwhelming majority of East Jerusalem’s more than 340,000 Palestinians hold Israeli residency permits but few have citizenship in Israel, which considers the entire holy city as its eternal, undivided capital. The Palestinians have long sought the city’s east, which Israel captured in a 1967 war and later annexed in a move not recognized internationally, as capital of a future state.

Jessica Montell, executive director of HaMoked which represents Hamouri, told Reuters that other Jerusalem residents have been charged with breach of allegiance and had their residency revoked in the past but could not be deported as they hold no other citizenship.

Hamouri’s case, therefore, sets a precedent for the deportation of Jerusalemites who hold alternative citizenship, Montell said.

“Because he holds a second nationality, that makes him more vulnerable to deportation,” said Montell, adding that she expects similar cases will emerge more frequently with a new right-wing coalition expected to form Israel’s next government.

“We can only expect that all of these measures will accelerate with this new government coming in,” said Montell.

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