Two boys, two laws: The discriminatory application of law in the West Bank
[24 September 2013] – Today, MCW submitted a report to the UN highlighting how two distinct legal systems are applied by the Israeli authorities to residents of the West Bank depending on an individual’s race or national identity.
The legal foundation for the report is based on the principle that no state is permitted to discriminate between those over whom it exercises penal jurisdiction based on race or national identity. In spite of this principle, Palestinians living in the West Bank are subject to Israeli military law, whereas civilian law is applied to Israelis living next door in settlements. The report notes that this issue of unlawful discrimination would never have arisen had successive Israeli governments complied with their legal obligation not to construct settlements.
The report provides the simple example of a Palestinian boy who throws a stone at an Israeli child from a settlement, or visa versa, and traces how these children receive fundamentally differential treatment under the applicable law, including:
· A prohibition against interrogating children at night – if the child is Israeli;
· A prohibition against giving children under 14 custodial sentences – if the child is Israeli; and
· Permitting parents to accompany their children during interrogation – if the child is Israeli.
The report concludes by making eight practical recommendations that would significantly improve the treatment of Palestinian children in the West Bank, whilst bringing Israel more in-line with its legal obligation not to unlawfully discriminate on the basis of race or national identity.