Notes from a Facebook post I wrote:
By SETH J. FRANTZMAN
“At times there seems to be two standards of adherence to the rule of law, one for Israelis, and another for Palestinians,” US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro said today.
This was dismissed by Israel’s leaders as if Shapiro had said something anti-Israel, as “unacceptable and wrong.”
On the same day that the IDF ordered the “removal” of Palestinian construction workers from Gush Etzion. How can anyone kid themselves that what Shapiro said is “wrong”? Of course Shapiro is correct, of course different laws apply and so does the issue of the rule of law. The populations are completely separate and live under two, or maybe three or four, different legal systems.
There are at least four layers of law in the West Bank. Palestinians under the PA, Palestinians in Area C, Palestinians working for Jews in Jewish communities, and Jews working for Jews and living in Jewish communities.
Laws in the West Bank? What laws? Land law? Is there land law? Is there registration of land? Is there a land system? Can one find a map with plot numbers, who owns what?
Laws? In one place a Civil Administration, in another a “military zone” in another the PA.
Laws? What laws? The laws that say who can enter what area, when? The laws the give the vote to X but not to Y? The laws that block off some roads and not others, demolish some houses and not others.
What laws? Is there a housing law in the West Bank. In one place a Palestinian can build a palace, a few meters away a mere shed is illegal, and a few meters hither or thither and a Jewish caravan exists but is illegal, and then here there is water for payment and there there is free water from who knows where.
Are there laws in the West Bank? People get “banning orders”, people are banned from some communities. Sometimes there is Israeli police, sometimes Palestinian police, sometimes one may speed, sometimes one may not. Here there is a road that has no limits, here there is Israeli police, and then there there is a Palestinian policeman giving tickets.
Laws? It’s not a legal system in the West Bank…it’s some sort of controlled chaos, invented ad-hoc here and there, with bits of the British emergency rule, bits of the Ottoman legal system, sometimes people are even disappeared, tortured.
Ok, it’s not the Congo or Tajikistan, though? It’s just Israel’s laws of non-law…
As I said above, there are at least three or four legal systems in the West Bank. The overall legal system is created to provide Jews with greater rights than Palestinians. Overall the system also denies Jews certain civil rights because Israel has a Soviet-style heritage built upon a British and Ottoman colonial legal system. So, Jews are also subject to denial of many civil liberties in the West Bank.
Palestinians and Jews live in separate worlds in the West Bank. One group votes in Israeli elections, one group does not. One group can drive back and forth to Jerusalem and Tel Aviv and fly to and from Ben-Gurion, one group cannot. They live in different communities and go to different school systems. They live under different community administrations. Palestinians have no right to enter Jewish communities, and often their rights to just drive on a road can be denied, whereas Jews often have rights to go where they want outside of PA areas, where the Israeli government has restricted them from entering (the PA doesn’t put up those red signs).
Israelis who harm Israelis are taken to Israeli courts, Israelis who harm Palestinians are taken to Israeli courts, Palestinians who harm Israelis are often taken to military courts, Palestinians who harm Palestinians are often not taken to court and no one in Israel cares whether such cases are solved or investigated.
When it comes to building, Israelis must suffer under the Israeli bureaucracy, land “laws”, codes, civil administration, military rules and other forms of German-Soviet-Mexican style laws. Palestinians do whatever they want, outside of the direct boundaries of Jewish communities, and for the most part as long as they build in their PA controlled areas, there are no laws that apply to them, except their own laws. In the other area, the “boetia” of Palestine, Area C, it’s a kind of free-for-all, where depending on who explains it, it is either a vast conspiracy against Jewish right to the land or against Palestinians right to a Palestine state.
But the end result is a ridiculous set of different laws, rules, standards and adherence to each. There are multiple layers of laws and authorities, chaos and control…
But Shapiro is entirely correct.