Hammouri was born in Jerusalem but holds French nationality.
Israel claims Hammouri is an activist with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a group it has labeled a terrorist organization. He worked as a lawyer for Adameer, a rights group that helps Palestinian prisoners whom Israel has banned for their alleged links to the PFLP.
He spent seven years in prison after being convicted of an alleged plot to kill a prominent rabbi, but was released in a 2011 prisoner swap with the militant group Hamas. He was not convicted in the latest proceedings against him.
Israel, however, claimed he had continued his activities with the banned group, stripped him of his residency and placed him in administrative detention last March – a status that allows Israel to detain suspected activists for months without charge them or bring them to justice. . Hammouri has not been charged in the current case, but Shaked ordered the deportation when his detention order expired. Israel’s Supreme Court had rejected an appeal against the decision to revoke Hammouri’s residency status.
The French Foreign Ministry condemned Israel’s expulsion of Hammouri after he landed in Paris, saying it had “taken all measures, including at the highest state level, to ensure that the Mr. Salah Hamouri’s rights are respected, that he benefits from all legal remedies and that he can lead a normal life in Jerusalem, where he was born, resides and wishes to live.
Israeli human rights group HaMoked, which had defended Hammouri, condemned Sunday’s expulsion. A hearing on the matter had been scheduled for January 1, and it was not immediately clear how Israel was able to move the deportation forward.
“Expelling a Palestinian from his homeland for breach of allegiance to the State of Israel is a dangerous precedent and a flagrant violation of basic human rights,” said the group’s director, Jessica Montell. “HaMoked will continue to fight this unconstitutional law.”
Last year, Hammouri was among six human rights activists whose mobile phones were discovered by independent security researchers to have been infected with spyware made by the Israeli company NSO Group.
It was unclear who placed the spyware on the phones. Israel said there was no connection between the terrorist designation of Adameer and five other Palestinian rights groups and any alleged use of NSO spyware. Israel has publicly provided little evidence to support the designation of terrorism, which Palestinian groups say aims to muzzle them and dry up their sources of funding.
Aryeh Deri, Shaked’s apparent successor as interior minister in Benjamin Netanyahu’s new government, said Hammouri’s expulsion was “the end of a long but fair legal process” and praised Shaked to have carried it out.
The expected new coalition government is set to pass legislation allowing Deri to become a minister despite a recent tax crime conviction.
Israel captured East Jerusalem, home to the city’s most important religious sites, in the 1967 Middle East war and annexed the region in a move that is not internationally recognised. He sees the entire city as his capital, while the Palestinians claim East Jerusalem as the capital of a future state.
While Jews in the city are automatically entitled to citizenship, Palestinians are granted residency status. This allows them freedom of movement, the ability to work, and access to Israeli social services, but they are not allowed to vote in national elections. Residency rights can be withdrawn if a Palestinian is found to be living outside the city for an extended period or in certain security cases.
Palestinians can apply for citizenship. But few do, not wanting to be perceived as accepting what they see as an occupation. However, those who apply face a lengthy and bureaucratic process.
The Haaretz daily reported this year that fewer than 20,000 Palestinians in Jerusalem, or about 5% of the population, hold Israeli citizenship, and only 34% of applications are approved. He cited Home Office information provided by Shaked to a parliamentary inquiry.
It was unclear whether France would accept Hammouri. The Foreign Ministry has previously said “he must be able to exercise all his rights and lead a normal life in Jerusalem, the city of his birth and residence”.