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Israel amendment could limit Palestinians and others filing lawsuits: rights lawyer

Gisha organization [advocacy website; press release] human rights lawyer Sari Bashi [official profile] on Tuesday expressed her concern over a civil regulations amendment by the Israeli Ministry of Justice [official website]. Scheduled to take effect on September 1, Amendment No. 4 of the Civil Law Procedure Regulations will require an identification number for a person who submits a document with the country's civil courts. Without the number the courts will not accept the document, restricting the ability of persons without a valid ID number to engage in legal proceedings. Bashi predicted that the new amendment will affect "mainly proceedings concerning various monetary claims: damage claims, claims concerning contracts and other matters under the authority of the civil courts in Israel, from the magistrate courts through the district courts to the Supreme Court when it functions as a court of appeal." There is also concern that nonresidents of Israel without foreign passports, who are mostly Palestinian residents of the Occupied Territory, migrant workers and refugees, are going to suffer under the new provision. The amendment defines five types of ID numbers for individuals and corporate entities. Two apply to individuals: for Israel residents, it is the number as it appears in the Israeli population registry, while for nonresidents it is the country where their passport was issued and the passport number. The amendment is expected to apply on pending as well as future proceedings and is expected to be limited only to civil courts. However Bashi worries that there is a possibility that the amendment may also affect cases before the High Court of Justice.

West Bank settlements [JURIST news archive] have caused tension between Israel and Palestinian authorities, as well as criticism by international groups despite the Israeli parliament's vote [JURIST report] against legalizing an unauthorized settlement in early June. In July the Supreme Court of Israel [official website, in Hebrew] granted [JURIST report] a government request to delay the removal of the Migron outpost [Peace Now backgrounder] in the West Bank. The court had initially ordered that Migron be dismantled by August 1 but decided to postpone the order after the government asked [JURIST reports] for a delay, arguing that the temporary housing site for the Migron settlers would not be ready by the ordered date. In June the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories Richard Falk demanded [JURIST report] that Israel cease its demolition [press release] of Palestinian buildings in the West Bank settlements after finding that such demolition of Palestinian structures like houses, animal shelters, water cisterns and roads have risen by 87 percent from last year. Israel responded to international investigations into these settlements by announcing [JURIST report] in March that it will sever ties to the UN Human Rights Council. The announcement came after the UN body initiated its investigation to determine the effect that Israeli settlements have had on the civil, political, economic and cultural rights of the Palestinian people.

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