Israel’s ID/Permit System – by Stephen Lendman
On April 23, Arizona’s racist immigration bill became law. Called “Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhood Act,” it requires proof of legal entry or citizenship or face arrest, fines, jailing, and/or deportation.
Under South African apartheid, pass laws segregated blacks from whites, restricted their movements, required pass books be carried at all times, and produced on demand or face arrest and prosecution. Evolving from the 18th and 19th century until their 1986 repeal, they restricted entry to cities, forcibly relocated blacks, denied them most public amenities and many forms of employment, and became apartheid’s most hated symbol.
Under Israeli military occupation, repression is worse than South Africa’s. It’s a sophisticated form of social, economic, political and racial discrimination, strangulation, and genocide, incorporating the worst elements of colonialism and apartheid as well as repressive dispossession, displacement and state terrorism to separate Palestinians from their land and heritage, deny them their rightful civil and human rights, and gradually remove or eliminate them altogether.
Apartheid is the worst form of racism. Israeli militarized occupation is the worst form of apartheid, incorporating violence, military incursions, land theft, home demolitions, targeted assassinations, murder, mass arrests, torture, destruction of agricultural land, and isolation – measures amounting to genocide, including starving Gazans under siege.
The ID/permit system is one of many elements designed to make greater Israel an ethnically pure Jewish state.
Israel requires all permanent residents and citizens over 16 to have color-coded ID cards (called te’udat zehut) for West Bank and Gazan Palestinians, East Jerusalem ones, Israeli Arabs and Jews.
For Palestinians, they dictate where they may live, work, and move, or be allowed through West Bank checkpoints, to Israel or Gaza. Doing so requires hard to get permits, easily cancelled without notice. More on them below.
Jews have blue IDs, Palestinians either Israeli-issued orange ones (in Hebrew) or nearly identical Palestinian Authority-issued green ones with a PA seal on top, that include the following information:
— name and ID number;
— father and mother’s names;
— date and place of birth;
— marital status;
— gender; and
Prior to 2005, ethnicity was also included. It’s still available on request from state registrations.
A separate document includes:
— current and previous addresses;
— previous names;
— citizenship, including for permanent resident citizens of other countries;
— name, birth date and ID numbers for spouse and children; and
— electoral polling stamp.
Since the 1993 Oslo Accords and follow-up agreements, West Bank Palestinians are prohibited from accessing Jerusalem health and educational services, the Separation Wall adding more impediments for thousands of residents on the West Bank side and others in the Seam Zone – the area east of the Green Line and west of the Wall. They also lose services, and for Jerusalem residents, access to the city and their residency.
Worse still, Seam Zone residents face possible land annexation to make way for settlement expansions and new ones. They need permits to live in their homes and till their fields. Others in East Jerusalem living west of the Wall must cross barriers and have permits to access other parts of the West Bank.
In theory, Jerusalem Palestinians may move freely within the city and through most of the West Bank. In practice, harsh security measures prevent it as well as their right to work in Israel, pay taxes, and get national insurance benefits. In addition, their Jerusalem residency isn’t guaranteed. If they live outside the city for seven years, it’s revoked, or if Israel wishes, revocation by military order may come.
Israeli Arabs are citizens, their ID cards identifying their religion. Again theoretically, they have free access to the West Bank and Jerusalem. In practice, they’re stopped, questioned, delayed, and denied access to West Bank cities by military order. The Separation Wall adds other restrictions.
Israeli and settlement Jews have unrestricted free movement throughout the West Bank and Jerusalem, unimpeded by the Separation Wall or repressive military orders, not applicable to them under civil law.
Israel’s Permit System
They harass and obstruct free movement as a Kafkaesque element of control, including:
— bypass roads for Jews only;
— permanent and mobile checkpoints, roadblocks, and other barriers that remain open or close intermittently without notice or explanation;
— control of all border crossings;
— closures anywhere, any time for any reason;
— the Separation Wall expropriating 12% of the West Bank as well as isolating communities from each other;
— ghettoizing them; and
— requiring a discriminatory system of work, internal and external movement permits to go anywhere –
— from one community to another;
— to and from the West Bank and Jerusalem;
— to reach Gaza, nearly impossible under siege;
— to enter or leave Israel, also nearly impossible; and
— go to work, school or shop, access health care, visit family, and for Seam Zone farmers till land they’ve owned for generations – what they face losing to make way for settlement development.
Permits are also required to build; make home renovations; grow crops not competing with Israeli ones; open a factory or business; import equipment; export merchandise; and over whatever else Israel decides to control – imposed to make daily life impossible.
Violence and bureaucratic harshness enforce the occupation, ongoing illegally since 1967 – to traumatize and intimidate Palestinians to leave, crush their will, and displace them forcefully if necessary for Jewish only settlements.
West Bank Palestinians face daunting restrictions to reach Jerusalem or Israel, given repressive prohibitions, except under special circumstances rarely granted. To qualify requires applying and paying for a magnetic card, proving they have security clearance permission. If granted, they’re for short periods for medical or other emergencies. Few permits are issued for work, and most medical and other emergency ones are denied.
Despite living on their own land in their own country, under military occupation they’re designated “permanent residents,” the equivalent of being non-persons.
Traveling abroad requires a special Interior Ministry issued, “laissez passer,” good for one year and renewable (only in Israel) if granted, but unless return before expiration, it’s denied altogether.
To reach Jordan, a valid state passport is needed, documents held by many West Bank and East Jerusalem residents since the Hashemite Kingdom administered the Territory.
Since the 1994 Cairo Agreement on Gaza and the Jericho Area, special permits aren’t required, just a passport and valid PA travel document approved by Israel. But given intensified repression since September 2000 and the Gaza War, procedures are easily denied, Israel maintaining tight internal and border control for “security.”
Until the second Intifada, West Bank residents could travel from Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport with an “airport permit.” Now they’re for special emergencies only on humanitarian grounds. Nonetheless, West Bank residents outside the Territory can’t return easily. Since 1994, reentry permits aren’t needed for those temporarily abroad or in Jordan. But if left before 1994, returning may be denied if permits expired and weren’t renewed, possible only in Israel. From 1967 – 1994, triennial renewals were required.
Again, established procedures change often and are uncertain at best – to harass, deny and repress.
Under siege, Gazans are entirely constrained (with few exceptions), but earlier, with ID and magnetic cards and and a required permit, travel to Jordan or abroad via Ben Gurion Airport was permitted.
No longer. Israel controls the only Rafah crossing into Egypt, so to enter requires a hard to get Egyptian visa and Israel’s permission, available only under special circumstances to very few people with no assurance of reentry on return even though permits aren’t required.
Under the Oslo Accords and follow-up agreements, Israel and the PA maintained a registry of West Bank and Gaza residents, the PA authorized to issue ID cards and passports (for travel) to West Bank Palestinians, not Gazans or those in East Jerusalem. Since September 2000, Israel’s Civil Administration Liaison Office handles all permit applications, none of them easy to get.
Unlike earlier, permission to work in Israel is hard to impossible as an October 7, 2003 Haaretz article explained, saying:
“It is quite complicated for a Palestinian to get legal permission to work in Israel. The employer must apply to the authorities, providing the name of the worker to be employed. The security services check the worker’s history – and there are criteria that anyway must be met: they must be over 35, have at least five children; and no security history, which means never having been arrested and preferably none of his relatives having such a record. If the license is granted, it goes to the Palestinian Authority Labor Affairs Ministry offices in the district where the worker lives, and the PA Employment Bureau hands over the license….”
About 2,500 military orders govern Palestinians, covering virtually everything from bank account withdrawals, to water rights, land transactions, opening a business, growing onions, to Order No. 1650 (Prevention of Infiltration) and Order No. 1649 (Security Provisions).
Effective April 13, they potentially facilitate the deportation of tens of thousands of West Bank and East Jerusalem Palestinians and/or their imprisonment for up to seven years.
Those at risk have ID cards showing Gaza their birth place, others born in the West Bank or abroad who lost their residency status, anyone unable to prove their legitimate status, foreign-born spouses, and those Israel targets for any reason to expel them. Earlier, Israeli civil courts prevented deportations. Military ones now have sole jurisdiction.
Anyone in the West Bank or East Jerusalem “illegally” is an “infiltrator,” as well as others there without lawful permits. Military commanders have sole discretion to incrementally or mass expel them, with no way to challenge as orders will come unexpectedly, providing no time to appeal. Deportations and/or arrests will follow, longstanding practices under repressive military occupation affording justice solely to Jews.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at email@example.com. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.