Adoption of a bill by Israeli cabinet ministers aimed at imposing tougher penalties on stone-throwers is the latest discriminatory measure by Israel, singling out Palestinians, a Palestinian diplomat has told Al Jazeera.
The draft law stipulates 10 years in jail for stone-throwers without the need to prove the defendant’s intention to harm anyone.
“When it comes to the Palestinians and Israelis, Israel has two different judicial systems. One is applicable to Israeli citizens and the other for Palestinians,” Maen Rashid Areikat, the chief of Palestinian Liberation Organisation Delegation in Washington DC, told Al Jazeera.
“I don’t think it [the bill] will have any effect on Israelis, because it is, in terms of content, only applicable to Palestinians. It is discriminatory, singling out Palestinians.”
The draft law in question that won preliminary parliamentary approval late last year allowed for sentences of up to 20 years in jail for throwing a rock with the intent of causing bodily harm.
However, far-right politician Ayelet Shaked, Israel’s new justice minister, complained that far lighter punishment would probably be handed down because of the difficulty of proving such intent, especially in cases of stone-throwing in mass street protests.
On Twitter, she announced that a ministerial committee approved her proposed amendments, which included an additional tier of 10 years’ imprisonment without the necessity to prove the defendant intended to harm anyone.
“With such legislations, Israel creates different legal systems and even administrative systems in the occupied territories,” Areikat told Al Jazeera.
Bill to be fast-tracked
Currently, Israeli prosecutors usually seek sentences of no more than three months in jail for rock-throwing that does not result in serious injury.
As a result of the legislation committee’s decision, the amended draft law can now be fast-tracked through parliament, where Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government controls 61 of its 120 seats.
The original legislation was promoted by Shaked’s predecessor as justice minister, centrist Tzipi Livni, after a wave of violent Palestinian protests in Jerusalem in 2014 that included frequent stone-throwing at the city’s light railway.
Those demonstrations erupted after the kidnapping and killing of a Palestinian teen in the city in July. Three Israelis are accused of murdering him in revenge for the deaths of three Jewish teenagers killed in the occupied West Bank.
Confrontations between Palestinian youths and Israeli police routinely degenerate into violent clashes and stone-throwing in Jerusalem and across the West Bank.