Thursday, July 14, 2011

Israeli Judge denies "Welcome to Palestine" participant's appeal of her detention by the Ministry of Interior

Deportation of Angela Seyfrid to Germany is imminent

Tel Aviv and Bethlehem, July 14, 2011 -- This morning Judge Avraham Yaakov of the district court upheld the Ministry of Interior detention and deportation order for Angelika Seyfrid, a 50 year old German citizen who resides in Berlin. Ms. Seyfrid has been in Givon prison since July 8th, when she flew to Ben Gurion airport with hundreds of other international participants of the "Welcome to Palestine" initiative in the hope of joining in a program of events organized by Palestinians in the West Bank.
Attorney Omer Shatz and Attorney Iftah Cohen challenged the Ministry of Interior's deportation order on behalf of Ms. Seyfrid. The German section of Jewish Voice for a Just Peace in the Middle East – in a coalition of many German NGOs – paid her court and attorney fees for the hearing. Michal Livne Kaiser, President of the German section of Jewish Voice, stated:  "We support these peace activists who assert their internationally recognized right of freedom of movement and thereby demonstrate solidarity with the isolated and disenfranchised Palestinians in the territories occupied by Israel."
Yesterday, in what Attorney Shatz called a "precedent-setting" decision, Judge Avraham Yaakov had ordered two Australian participants of the "Welcome to Palestine" initiative to be released on the grounds that the Ministry of Interior was overstepping his authority by ordering them deported. The two Australians had stated that they were not planning to visit Israel, but were only planning to visit friends in the West Bank as part of the "Welcome to Palestine" initiative.  Therefore, the Judge gave them the "opportunity," after posting bond, to request permission from the Israeli military to enter the West Bank.
However, in the case this morning, Judge Avraham Yaakov ruled that the Ministry of Interior had the right to detain and deport Ms. Seyfrid on the grounds that she stated that, in addition to hoping to join the "Welcome to Palestine" events in the West Bank, she also planned to visit Israel. Some of the "Welcome to Palestine" events are taking place in the Negev desert to help rebuild a Bedouin village that the Israeli forces have many times destroyed. According to Judge Yaakov, the Ministry of Interior does have authority to deport persons who plan to come to Israel.
During the hearing, the attorney for the Ministry of Interior asserted that "Welcome to Palestine" was "intended to arouse disorder and violence" and stated that, even though Ms. Seyfrid has a legal right to challenge the deportation order, her use of that right is in itself "a provocation."
In his petition on behalf of Ms. Seyfrid, Attorney Shatz stated that "the Ministry of Interior has acted arbitrarily and discriminatorily."  The arbitrariness is evident, he stated, "in the way her entry was denied, as well as in the manner of her arrest and in the attempt to deport her , without telling her anything, not even regarding her legal rights." Attorney Shatz argued that "tourists not regarded by the Ministry of Interior to be 'pro-Palestinian,' but instead as supporters of 'Greater Israel,'  not only receive permission to enter Israel with no disturbance, but are also not even required to obtain an entry permit to visit the West Bank."
In addition, stated Attorney Shatz, "there are grounds for reasonable doubt that the decision against the plaintiff was even made by the Ministry of Interior. Publications in the public media on behalf of the Government of Israel reveal that the prime minister himself decided to sabotage, collectively and overwhelmingly, the tourist arrivals to the territories of the Palestinian Authority. This is based only on the assumption that the tourists are "pro - Palestinian" and that their support of a nonviolent struggle for liberation of a people that suffers from the burden of a prolonged military regime -- is a provocation that in his view is somehow threatening to the Israeli public."
In the end, it turned out that Judge Yaakov had already prepared his order, which he then read to the court secretary.
It is believed that Ms. Seyfrid will be placed on a flight back to Germany this evening.
Media Contacts:
PALESTINE: Media Center,   +970 (0) 595 754 100 /
Sheerin Alaraj,, +972(0)522054595

FRANCE:  Nicolas Shahshahani, +33(0)1 42 94 39 94 and +33(0)673 38 24 84
GERMANY: Sophia Deeg,, +49(0)88 007761,+49(0)1799878414 and Elsa Rassbach (see contact details below)
USA: Karin Pally, or, +1 310-399-1921
INTERNATIONAL Media Coordination:  Elsa Rassbach,, +49 (0) 30 326 01540 or +49 (0) 170 738 1450 Skype: elsarassbach
Law Firm:       Shatz & Cohen – Iftah Cohen & Omer Shatz – Tel +972 (0)3 5186642

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