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Israel defends right to arrest foreigners in West Bank

Chaim Levinson | Ha’aretz

24 March 2010

The state argued Tuesday that the Israel Defense Forces has as the right to make arrests in Area A on the basis of a 1970 order that does not allow unauthorized persons to stay there for more than 48 hours without permission from the military commander.

The state made the argument in Tel Aviv District Court in defense of the decision to arrest Ariadna Jove Marti and Bridget Chappell, two international activists, in Bir Zeit near Ramallah last month.

Marti, who is from Spain, and Chappell, from Australia, were arrested on February 7 in Area A, which is under full Palestinian control. They were arrested and were immediately to be expelled from Israel but an appeal to the Supreme Court resulted in their release.

In court Tuesday, attorney Omer Shatz and Yiftah Cohen argued in their appeal that the State of Israel has no authority over civilian matters in Area A, and therefore the arrest of the two activists was illegal – and they must be allowed back into Ramallah.

For its part, the state said that Marti and Chappell belong to the International Solidarity Movement, an organization “that supports an ideology that is anti-Zionist, pro-Palestinian and universally revolutionary.”

The state maintained: “The organization’s activists are involved in activities against the security forces in areas of friction in Judea and Samaria and East Jerusalem.”

The two were “taking advantage of their tourist visas so they could participate in demonstrations in areas of friction,” the state argued.

During deliberations earlier this week before Judge Oded Mudrik, representatives of the Shin Bet asked to present classified information on the two activists. The judge rejected the request and said the material was “irrelevant” to the decision to expel the two, as their activity does not pose a security threat.

At a later stage, the state presented a military order from May 1970 that allows entry into Judea and Samaria but forbids making the area a place of residence, temporary or permanent, or for more than 48 hours “unless the military commander permits this personally.”

The state argued that the two activists were not given such permission.

In its response the state did not answer to the argument that Bir Zeit is in Area A.

Mudrik ordered the expulsion delayed by a further seven days so the two can appeal against the order to the Supreme Court.