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Israel's latest law confirms bias in judicial system

It's hard not to notice the biased nature of Israel's justice system. At the end of July the Supreme Court delayed the eviction of Israel's largest settlement, Migron, which was built on private Palestinian land and is deemed illegal by the United Nations. As settlements have grown in Israel so have attacks by settlers on Palestinians, yet today a new law was passed which will make taking their aggressors to court a slog, if not impossible.

The new law, approved by Yaakov Neeman, Israel's Justice Minister, prevents prosecutors from bringing a case to an Israeli court in the absence of an Israeli ID or a foreign passport number. As of September when the new law takes effect, this will include Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza who do not have citizenship or a Palestinian Authority passport.

It will do little to console Palestinians frequently displaced by Israeli military demolitions, citizens who are subject to routine, violent confrontations from settlers and the army, or those who have lost relatives as a result of Israel Defence Force bombings in Gaza. The law prevents "foreigners" (ie Palestinians) from seeking legal recourse in Israeli courts which essentially means that the perpetrators of such crimes will not be brought to justice.

It's not only the Palestinian population who will be affected but also asylum seekers in Israel who will not have the chance to challenge the Prevention of Infiltration Law.

In January, the anti-infiltration law was amended and approved to allow imprisonment for up to three years without trial for people entering Israel illegally to look for work and extended to anyone helping them. Under the new law, immigrants will no longer be able to appeal against this already controversial legislation.

Individuals without the appropriate documents won't be able to file suits against their employers, or claim if they are injured in a car accident, wrongfully attacked, dismissed from work, had their property destroyed or appeal if they are at risk of being deported.

What will offer little relief is that people without ID or a foreign passport number will be referred to a registrar or judge. In reality this is not likely to make much difference; what is more likely is that an extended process will make the journey through Israel's courts much more difficult.

It is ironic that such a law has even been contemplated after Israelis – foreigners in the US ‑ have used the American legal system for years to secure the closure of charities supporting Palestine, as well as the seizure of their funds.

Sadly, though, this discrimination against Arabs within Israeli courts is nothing new. They generally serve longer sentences, with more receiving jail terms than other Israelis convicted of the same crime. Being discriminated against in daily life is one thing, but being singled out in the very system that should uphold the law and justice within a country is another. Every person has the right to stand to or bring someone to justice, without discriminatory sentencing or legislation based on nationality and ethnicity.

Follow Amelia on Twitter: @amyinthedesert

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

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