The Knesset (Israel’s parliament) has advanced a bill at a preliminary reading that would ban flying the Palestinian flag during protests.
The proposal for the law, put forward by the far-right Otzma Yehudit party led by Almog Cohen, stipulates that three or more people waving the flag of a “hostile entity” will be considered a crime and, therefore, punishable by up to one year in prison.
According to Haaretz, the bill, which requires three additional votes to pass, will also enable Israel authorities to criminalise and disband protests held by Palestinians.
The description of the bill states that it “directs the public behaviour in Israel. As a democracy, Israel enables its citizens to protest decisions they don’t agree with the authorities on. But the proposal draws a red line between legitimate protest and one in which there are flags of those who don’t recognise the State of Israel, those who aren’t friendly toward it or don’t enable Israel to raise its flag in its territory.”
The bill comes after Israel’s Knesset (parliament) passed the preliminary reading of a controversial bill last year that would ban flying the Palestinian flag in state-funded institutions.
It also comes as Israeli settlers stage the flag march through Jerusalem’s Old City today to mark what they call the unification of Jerusalem, in reference to Israel’s occupation of the city in 1967.
Condemning the passing of the bill, the Legal Centre for Arab Minority Rights in Israel – Adalah, said police officers removing flags at protests and arresting those holding them is an “extreme breach of their authority and the law”.
Meanwhile, Hamas, the group that governs the Gaza Strip, slammed the bill as a religious war waged by the sitting fascist Israeli administration against Palestinians.
“Approving such a draft bill in a preliminary reading would give Israeli occupation forces the green light to further violate Palestinian people’s rights,” it said in a statement yesterday.
The Resistance movement further highlighted that such actions would fail to discourage Palestinians from waving their national flag, which represents their identity, unity and struggle.