[News] Israel bans Islamic party in crackdown on Palestinian citizens

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Wed Nov 18 11:35:36 EST 2015

  Israel bans Islamic party in crackdown on Palestinian citizens

Charlotte Silver <https://electronicintifada.net/people/charlotte-silver>
17 November 2015

In a major escalation of its crackdown on Palestinian citizens 
<https://electronicintifada.net/tags/palestinians-israel> in the 
country, the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu outlawed 
<http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/1.686521> the Northern Branch of the 
Islamic Movement in Israel 
on Monday.

The draconian measure means that association, membership or assistance 
to the party will now be considered a criminal offense.

In July, Israel issued travel bans 
on the movement’s leader Sheikh Raed Salah 
<https://electronicintifada.net/tags/raed-salah> and two other prominent 

Israeli police conducted 
overnight raids on the group’s offices, Monday, confiscating computers 
and seizing documents and cash.

A total of 17 branches were closed, including in Umm al-Fahm, Jaffa, 
Nazareth, Kufr Kana, Bir al-Saba and Rahat, all cities in present-day 
Israel with large Palestinian populations.

Police also froze the movement’s bank accounts and the government may 
now seize other property.

Haneen Zoabi <https://electronicintifada.net/tags/haneen-zoabi>, a 
Palestinian citizen of Israel and member of parliament for the Joint 
List <https://electronicintifada.net/tags/joint-list>, said 
that the timing of the move, just days after the attacks in Paris, was 
no coincidence.

Zoabi accused Netanyahu of exploiting the massacre to paint Palestinians 
struggling for their legitimate rights as no different from the ISIS 
gunmen and bombers who killed 130 people.


Netanyahu accuses the Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement of 
“incitement” for focusing on the danger to Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa mosque 
from Israeli government-backed groups whose ultimate declared goal 
is to replace the Islamic holy site with a Jewish temple 

Last month, Isaac Herzog 
<https://electronicintifada.net/tags/isaac-herzog>, leader of the 
Zionist Union, Israel’s ostensibly dovish official opposition, also 
for the group to be outlawed.

On Tuesday, the Zionist Union 
<https://electronicintifada.net/tags/zionist-union> lauded 
<http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/Flash.aspx/> the decision and 
admonished Netanyahu for not doing it sooner.

But two weeks ago, Yoram Cohen, the head of Israel’s Shin Bet 
<https://electronicintifada.net/tags/shin-bet> secret police told the 
government <http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-1.683671> he had 
no evidence linking the group to terrorism and objected to proposals to 
outlaw it.

    Pursued by state

The Islamic Movement in Israel was founded in the 1970s but split in 
1996. While the Northern Branch observes a complete boycott of Israel’s 
institutions, the Southern Branch participates in elections.

Three members of the Southern Branch serve as lawmakers in the Israeli 
parliament, as members of the Joint List, an alliance of Palestinian and 
Israeli political parties.

The ban on the extra-parliamentary Northern Branch will likely encourage 
Israeli politicians seeking to outlaw 
even Arab parties that are represented in parliament.

The movement’s leader Raed Salah, a former mayor of Umm al-Fahm, has 
long been targeted by the Israeli state.

Last month, a court rejected Salah’s appeal 
against an 11-month prison sentence he received in March 2014.

The conviction was for supposed “incitement to violence 
over a speech he delivered in 2007.

Ahmed Tibi, a member of the Israeli parliament for the Joint Arab List, 
said the court 
had been “influenced by the impassioned public atmosphere.”

Salah was previously jailed for two years in 2003 after he was convicted 
for supporting “terrorism,” over fundraising for charities in the 
occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip.

In an extensive 2007 interview 
with the /Journal of Palestine Studies/, Salah said, “To this day I 
don’t know the real reasons for my arrest and imprisonment. Maybe it had 
something to do with our role in thwarting Israel’s schemes targeting 
al-Aqsa mosque through our rehabilitation and restoration works, even 
though we worked under the umbrella of the al-Awqaf Committee and the 
al-Aqsa Mosque Restoration Committee” – bodies recognized by Israel that 
manage the holy site.

Salah also notes that long before his trial in 2003, then-Prime Minister 
Ariel Sharon <https://electronicintifada.net/tags/ariel-sharon> had 
explicitly called for outlawing the Islamic Movement.

The ban imposed this week further erodes the distinction between how 
Israel treats Palestinians who live under military occupation in the 
West Bank and Gaza Strip, on the one hand, and the 1.5 million in 
present-day Israel, on the other, who ostensibly enjoy more civil and 
political rights, even if not on a par with Jews 

    Poetic fabrication

In June 2011, Salah was detained in the UK after interior minister 
Theresa May moved to bar him from the country where he was due to give 

As The Electronic Intifada reported, May’s claim that Salah had written 
an anti-Semitic poem was based on fabrications 
provided by an Israel lobby group 

Ten months later, a UK court overturned the ban 
finding no evidence to support it and completely vindicating Salah.

/Ali Abunimah contributed research and translation./

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