THE INDEX — April 12, 2010

A new Israeli military order to go into effect on Tuesday will subject all Palestinians in the West Bank without proper documentation to deportation or imprisonment of up to seven years. Under the new order, the definition of “infiltrator” has been substantively changed to “a person who entered the area unlawfully following the effective date, or a person who is present in the area and does not lawfully hold a permit."  The new wording gives a much broader scope than ever before to the definition of an illegal. "The orders are worded so broadly such as theoretically allowing the military to empty the West Bank of almost all its Palestinian inhabitants," said a letter from human rights organization HaMoked and signed by 10 other groups, addressed to Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak.  Israeli newspaper, Haaretz, warned on Monday that implementing the new order might not only spark new conflict in the territories, but could also suggest that Israel’s aim is actually a mass deportation of Palestinians from the West Bank.  The BBC reports that many people in the West Bank have ID cards from other countries in the region, or papers listing Gaza as their home. Others are married to Palestinians who at one time lived in refugee camps in neighboring Jordan, Egypt, Syria or Lebanon, and may not have Israeli-approved ID cards.  These individuals face the impending possibility of deportation or imprisonment as “infiltrators” under the new order. The Israeli military insists that the new orders are only formalizing pre-existing procedures and that there would be no new increase in deportations from the West Bank.

More than 90 anti-government protestors were beaten and detained by Egyptian police last week in central Cairo’s Tahrir Square as the demonstrators chanted for constitutional reform and abolition of the three-decade-old emergency law, which prohibits citizens from assembling. Police officers in plainclothes and anti-riot squads beat the peaceful marchers with batons and harassed a number of journalists including Samir Amr, an Al-Jazeera correspondent; Ibrahim Kamal Eddin, a reporter for the independent daily Nahdat Misr; Imad Fawaz, a reporter with the opposition daily Al-Karama; Mohamed Hussam Eldeen, a photographer with the independent daily Al-Masry al-Youm, a Dream TV crew, and American freelance photojournalist, confiscating his camera, according to the Arab Network for Human Rights Information. The rally was staged by the 6 April Youth Movement, a political youth-led group which supports the potential presidential candidate Mohamed El-Baradei, the former UN chief weapons inspector, in the upcoming 2011 presidential election. El-Baradei represents the face of change from authoritarian President Hosni Mubarak, 81, who has ruled the country for more than 30 years. El-Baradei was not present at the protest, but condemned the attacks via twitter, writing, "Detentions and beatings during peaceful demonstration is an insult to the dignity of every Egyptian. Shame…Proposed extension of the emergency law that deprives Egyptians of basic human rights exposes a regime afraid of its own people."

Following the bloodiest political clash in Bangkok between anti-government protestors and government forces since 1992, Thailand’s Election Commission voted to request the Constitution Court’s order to dissolve the ruling Democrat Party.  To the protestors’ satisfaction, the Election Commission cited illegal donations to a political party as grounds for dissolution. Allegedly, the prime minister’s party received more than 258 million baht (US$7.98 million) from a firm called TPI Polene Plc., though Thailand’s charter specifies that an individual or company cannot donate more than 10 million baht (US$309,310) per year to a political party. The country’s attorney general will process the request for dissolution, which could then be forwarded to the Constitution Court. This will be the third political party dissolved in three years if election commission vote is upheld.

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