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Collecting money in the light of Corona pandemic: between the legal text and the theory of force majeure

Gaza – On Wednesday 29th of July 2020, the Institute of Law (IoL) of Birzeit University organised a legal encounter on “Collecting money in the light of Corona pandemic: between the legal text and the theory of force majeure”. It was held in partnership with Konrad Adenauer Stiftung-Palestinian Territories. The legal Advisor, Mr. Maan Al Atrash, had spoken at the legal encounter.

Mr. Maan Al Atrash had started his speech by talking about collecting money through legal methods and their types, including obligations and debts through checks, bills of exchange, organized and customary debt bonds, and financial transfers according to the Palestinian Trade Law No. (2) for the year (2014) and Implementation Law No. (23) for the year (2005).

Al-Atrash then talked about the ways of collecting money, as he indicated that there is the friendly way through mediators or lawyers, and it may be done through a specific compromise to pay in cash or in installmints as appropriate. Or through the Public Prosecution office, submitting a legal complaint for a check without balance as it is a crime punishable by law. The matter is   transferred to the judiciary to apply the appropriate penal Code rules.  After the completion of the criminal part, it is also possible to collect money through execution order obtained through the competent court, which is usually the court of first instance. In addition, one of the methods is to resort directly to civil courts, when the original debt is not proven according to official or customary document.

Then he reviewed the topic of collecting debts, obligations and money from a practical point of view, as a practical experience before the competent authorities, and before the outbreak of Corona pandemic. In addition to the impact of economic conditions that Gaza Strip had been going through for more than ten years, and their impact on the collection process.

 Then he talked about the issue of collecting money and debts in the light of Corona pandemic, the range of legal enforcement of force majeure and emergency circumstances, the difference between them, and whether Corona pandemic is considered as a force majeure that prevented the collection of money, or an emergency circumstance from a legal perspective? And he added that there are two different opinions about adapting the impact of the pandemic, whether it is a force majeure or an emergency circumstance, as he defined both force majeure and emergency circumstances, and had pointed out the difference between them.

Al-Atrash added that there is a split in opinions about the legal adaptation to deal with this pandemic, and he indicated to the legality of applying one of the two theories.

At the end of his speech, Al -Atrash referred to the practical experience of dealing with Corona pandemic before the official authorities, during the period of declaring the state of emergency; and the circulars issued by the Monetary Authority to deal with this crisis; in addition to the provided solutions to deal with the collection of money under the circumstances of Corona pandemic. The discussion was opened, which included many questions, interventions and recommendations.

 

 

The Annexation Projects: the Political and Legal Implications

The Institute of Law on Wednesday, 10 June 2020, with support from Konrad-Adenauer-Stifitung, has organized a legal encounter entitled “The Annexation Projects: the political and legal implications”. The encounter took place through Zoom. The speakers were: Ms. Suhad Bishara, a lawyer and the head of the Land and planning department in Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, Mr. Jamal Jum’a the coordinator of Palestinian Grassroots Anti-apartheid Wall Campaign, and Dr. Hasan Jabarin, a lawyer and the director of Adalah, as part of Birzeit Legal Encounters program, that the institute organizes in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Jamil Salem welcomed the participants. Ms. Suhad Bishara was the first speaker; she gave an analysis of the legal aspects of the expected annexation operation. She emphasized on a very particular point; while the common discourse circulating, that the annexation project doesn’t change the situation on the ground, as annexation is considered to be the core of the Zionist project, and has always existed, therefore there is nothing new in that project, is true, nevertheless it is not very accurate. If annexation takes place, no matter how big or small the annexed parts of the land are, it will bring with it a large number of discriminatory laws – such as those promulgated in the 1950s – and extend its application to the annexed parts. Palestinians can easily imagine all the devastating consequences such laws can have, laws that implicitly aims to force the local population to evacuate the land.

On the International law level, the annexation discourse represents new challenges for the Palestinian researchers, academics, and jurists. Israel has always violated international law norms in the OPT, however until now those violations have been dealt with singly and separately, the Israeli overt decision of annexing parts of the West Bank, even if it is not executed anytime soon, renders the colonization a systematic and an ongoing act, therefore posing serious questions on how to deal with the Israeli system, how to define that system as a whole, and how to frame, analyze and expose the Israeli practices.

The second speaker was Mr. Jamal Jum’a, it was a very practical intervention, where Mr. Jum’a displayed a map made by the well-known Dutch cartographer Jan de Jong. He gave a complete and detailed explanation of the geographical aspects of the Israeli colonial project in the West Bank, which started in 1967.

Mr. Jum’a showed, on the displayed map, the areas targeted by the annexation, which includes mainly the east of the West Bank (the Jordan Valley) but also its west. One could be surprised when realizing that the western villages of Ramallah, Selfit, and the villages situated to the north west of Jerusalem. Mr. Jum’a went on explaining the great economic damages that would follow from the annexation of these areas. The Jordan Valley is the most important source of livestock in the West Bank, an important percentage of the agricultural wealth will be also lost, but most importantly is water resources, in fact, water resources in the West Bank are concentrated in the areas that will be annexed in the eastern and western parts of the West Bank. Mr. Jum’a finished his intervention by exposing the numerous difficulties that Palestinians will face in their daily life if the annexation takes place, most importantly the additional obstacles added to the freedom of movement.

The third and last intervention was that of Dr. Hasan Jabarin. He started his intervention from the point Ms. Bishara has emphasized; the annexation is de acto taking place, and this has been the case since 1967, and the very particular status of Jerusalem is by far the clearest example. The question therefore is “what is new?” “What has changed?” “why evoking the matter of annexation now?” The difference now is that the annexation we’re talking about is an annexation according to the Israeli law, the whole current discussion turns around one essential point; will Israel promulgate a clear and overt law through which it explicitly declares that parts of the West Bank are now subject to its sovereignty and accordingly constitutes a part of the Israeli State?  It is this particular point that causes all this controversy.

The step of promulgating a law that will legalize the annexation raises a heated debate inside Israel too. Up until now, Israel has been very reluctant when it comes to promulgating overtly racist laws; they would rather impose the facts on the ground than legalizing such practices. It is what differentiate it from the Apartheid system in South Africa; the Israeli legal culture does not legalize racism. So the main question is therefore will the annexation be applied according to a law? Or without it? And if the law is promulgated will that mean that the Israeli legal culture has changed towards one that is much more similar to that of the Apartheid regime in South Africa? Or will it continue with its traditional culture of practicing racism on the ground without the interference of law? This is not a simple matter and it is a very controversial issue inside the Israeli society.

Dr. Hasan expected a sever opposition inside the Israeli community to the annexation project. The international community, on the other hand – if we excluded the U.S. which supports the annexation – sees in in this project an end to the European project; the European project is based on one principle “two states for two people”, therefore we are waiting to see the position of the international community. As for the Palestinian position, Dr. Hasan expects that annexation will change the Palestinian discourse back to the discourse of “the right to self-determination”. In his opinion if annexation takes place – and the new de facto situation extends in time – along with an American support, a European and International silence, and an Arabic and Palestinian weakness, this will make the situation – with time – go back to what it was in the 1950s and 60s – No Palestinian State. This strike for the Palestinian State project, will force Palestinians to change their right discourse and adopt again “the right to self-determination” discourse, that discourse which provoked an enormous worldwide echo in the 1970s and 80s, but has dimmed during the past two decades.

Around 100 participants attended the legal encounter. The participants were then given the opportunity to comment and ask questions.

 

 

The Legal Framework of Cybercrime in Palestine

On Tuesday, 20 December 2016, the Institute of Law (IoL) and Faculty of Law and Public Administration at Birzeit University organised a legal encounter on The Legal Framework of Cybercrime in Palestine.

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Labor Rights in the private sector (in Gaza Strip) in light of the ministry of labor’s decision during the State of Emergency

“Labor Rights in the private sector (in Gaza Strip) in light of the ministry of labor’s decision during the State of Emergency”

 Gaza – Tuesday 30 June 2020, The Institute of Law at Birzeit University, with support from Konrad-Adenauer-Stifitung, has organized a legal encounter entitled “Labor Rights in the private sector (in Gaza Strip) in light of the ministry of labor’s decision during the State of Emergency”. The encounter took place via zoom. The main speaker was Mr. Abdullah Sharsharah, and a number of jurists have participated to the encounter.

 

Mr. Sharsharah exposed the reality of workers’ rights; he mentioned that 57% (59% in the West Bank and 51% in Gaza Strip) of the workers in Palestine work in unorganized sectors, also called informal employment such as domestic workers. These employees are deprived from many of their basics rights such as their entitlement to indemnities, retirement, paid leave, and medical leave.   

 

The private sector – and accordingly the workers – has extremely suffered from the Covid-19 pandemics and the sanitary confinement. Many enterprises and shops were forced to close and decided to terminate the contracts of many of their employees. The ministerial joint committee took several decisions since March 2020 which directly affected those employees; such as the closing of wedding halls, restaurants and coffee shops, popular markets, mosques… etc. other measures fallowed which included the closing of all educational institutions. The education sector (especially Kindergarten) was one of the main sectors affected by those decisions, followed by tourism, and services (mainly transportation, communication, and stores), those working in the construction industry also suffered a lot.

 

Mr. Sharsharah explained the interpretations of Article 38 of the Palestinian labor code, especially that the Palestinian case law does not include the applicability of such an article in a situation of pandemic, accordingly the door was open for several interpretations. One side saw that the termination of contracts under the current crisis should not be allowed and the decision of the lockdown differs from the administrative decision or judicial decision referred to in article 38, accordingly the labor contract shouldn’t be terminated, and if it is terminated the act of terminating the labor contract should be deemed arbitrary and illegal. Others argued that the state of emergency rendered the execution of the contract impossible.

 

Mr. Sahrsharah also spoked about International Human Rights Law; explaining that the International Human Rights Law guarantees the right of every individual to receive the highest level of health, and oblige states to take measures to prevent any threat to public health, and to provide medical care for those who needs it. Mr. Sahrsharah also said that International Human Rights Law allowed the restriction of some human rights during a situation of emergency, such as a public health crisis, if such restriction is deemed necessary according to scientific proof, for a limited period, while respecting human dignity, and only if those restrictions were proportionate with the severeness of the threat. In such a case, the restriction cannot be considered arbitrary or discriminatory.

 

In the end, the door was open for the participants to discuss the issue, ask questions, and make comments and recommendations.  

 

 

The Institute of Law (IoL) at Birzeit University, in partnership with Konrad Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS), organized a legal encounter in Gaza regarding "Housing rights in light of mass displacement during the 2014 war on Gaza"

 

 

 

 

 

The Institute of Law, Birzeit University, in partnership with Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS), organized a legal encounter in Gaza, regarding "Housing rights in light of mass displacement during the 2014 war on Gaza". The meeting was held on Thursday, 1 November 2018.

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The role of the Group 77 in promoting the development of Foreign International Cooperation

On November 22, the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung Palestinian Territories and the Institute of Law held a legal encounter at Birzeit University on the topic of “The role of the Group 77 in promoting the development of Foreign International Cooperation”

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Health policies in the Gaza Strip during the Corona Virus crisis

Gaza – Tuesday 16 June 2020, The Institute of Law at Birzeit University, organized a legal encounter entitled “Health policies in the Gaza Strip during the Corona Virus crisis”.

 Dr. Osama Bil’awi, has first explained what is meant by a health system, as it is used to define the whole group of organizations, institutions and resources that aim to improve the health, and the system’s needs to employees, funds, information, means of transportations and communication, and general directives. Dr. Bil’awi has also mentioned that the health system is based on six pillars; the leadership and governance of the health system; technology and the computer system; the funding; the healthcare institutions and the health services; human resources; and finally the pharmaceutical products and the medical supplies.

Dr. Bil’awi then presented statistics of the Covid 19 pandemic on a universal scale, and the statistics on the local level in the Gaza Strip. He mentioned that the number of confirmed cases in Gaza is 72, of which 45 has recovered, which leave us with 26 active cases. The compulsory quarantine for travelers entering the Strip from all the crossings was implemented on the 15th of March, and there were two hospitals used as quarantine hospitals; the European Hospital, and a field hospital built in Rafah.

Dr. Bil’awi went on speaking about the response of the Palestinian health system, which includes the structural framework and the response committees, public policies, and the certain procedures that were implemented. He also explained the general purposes of the emergency plan, which includes: strengthening the governance and the management of the response to Covid 19, ensuring the provision of the health services and its continuation, the support services related to Covid 19, and strengthening the health education, and the support of human resources, and the provision of pharmaceuticals, medical devices, and logistics support.

Dr. Bil’awi then went on evaluating the local response to Covid 19 pandemic, of which informing the public is an important part. Providing the tests and the treatment, protecting the doctors and all those who work on the front line, lessening the risks of the propagation of the virus in prisons, providing water and improving the hygiene, and managing the crisis in way that respects human rights and being able to deal with the effects of social distancing are all standards for evaluating the local response to the pandemic.

In the end of the encounter the participants were given the opportunity to discuss the matter. Many questions were asked, comments were made and recommendations were given. To mention few of these recommendations: the importance to manage the crisis in a way that guarantees the respect of human rights, the procedures taken that aim to limiting the movement of the citizens, and to stop some of the medical treatment and operations shouldn’t limit the right of elderly people, people with disability, and the mother and child access to healthcare, and the need to establish a developed system of contact tracing, and working seriously on limiting the economic effect of the pandemic to respect the economic rights of every individual, including those with limited income, and those working in free professions, and ensuring that the most vulnerable don’t lose their housing because of their inability to pay the rent.

                       

 

Palestinian Prisoners and Released Prisoners’ Salaries and Benefits from a Legal and Human Rights Perspective

Gaza - On Tuesday, 11 July 2017, the Institute of Law (IoL) of Birzeit University organised a legal encounter on Palestinian Prisoners and Released Prisoners’ Salaries and Benefits from a Legal and Human Rights Perspective.

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International Law and the Refugee Crisis

On Thursday, 3 November 2016, the Institute of Law and the Faculty of Law and Public Administration at Birzeit University, with support from the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, held a legal encounter entitled “International Law and the Refugee ‘Crisis’”

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