France condemns Israel over lawyer’s deportation

France has condemned Israel’s deportation of a Palestinian-French rights lawyer whom Israel had accused of security offences.

Israel deported Salah Hammouri, who was born and lived in Jerusalem, to Paris on Sunday, having stripped him of his residency rights after accusing him of involvement in terrorist activities.

The French foreign ministry said the deportation of Hammouri, who holds French citizenship via his mother, was “against the law”.

“France has . . . clearly communicated its opposition to this expulsion of a Palestinian resident of East Jerusalem, an occupied territory in the sense of the fourth Geneva Convention,” it said.

Israel’s interior ministry said Hammouri was active in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), which Israel, the US and the EU have designated as a terrorist group.

“During his life he organised, inspired and planned to carry out terrorist attacks himself and for the organisation against citizens and prominent figures in Israel,” the Israeli interior ministry said.

Hammouri has denied the allegations, and his expulsion was condemned by rights organisations. HaMoked, a group that represented Hammouri, said his deportation was “a gross violation of basic rights”.

Hammouri said he would fight to return. “Wherever a Palestinian goes, he takes with him these principles and the cause of his people: his homeland carried with him to wherever he ends up,” he said on Sunday.

The 37-year-old worked as a lawyer for Addameer, a group which provides assistance to Palestinian prisoners. Israel designated the group as a terrorist organisation last year, alleging that it had links to the PFLP.

In March, Hammouri was arrested and held in administrative detention, without being charged, until December.

He was previously jailed in 2005 over an alleged plot to assassinate the Sephardi rabbi Ovadia Yossef, founder of the ultra-Orthodox Shas party. He maintained his innocence while agreeing to a plea deal in exchange for a reduced sentence.

He was released in 2011 as part of a prisoner swap for the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who had been held captive in Gaza by the militant group Hamas.

Ayelet Shaked, Israel’s outgoing interior minister, hailed the deportation and said she hoped the incoming government would “continue this line and expel terrorists from Israel”.However, Hammouri’s supporters expressed fears about the implications of his deportation for other Palestinians with foreign passports living in Jerusalem. Most Palestinians living in the city hold revocable residency rights but do not have Israeli citizenship.

“Salah’s expulsion sets a horrifying precedent for Palestinians in Jerusalem who have been confronted by a range of Israeli policies aimed at expelling them from their home city,” a spokesman for Justice for Salah, a campaign supporting Hammouri, said.

Israel captured East Jerusalem in 1967. It subsequently annexed the territory in a move that was not recognised internationally, and considers the entire city its capital. Palestinians seek East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state.

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