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Palestinian asylum seeker wins landmark ruling in the UK

4 April 20240 comments

In a landmark legal case in the UK, a Palestinian citizen of Israel has been granted asylum protection in the United Kingdom because he is likely to experience persecution or harm if he was forced to return to Israel.

‘Hasan’* a Palestinian citizen of Israel, has spent 23 of his 24 years the UK and does not speak Hebrew or Arabic fluently.

In 2019, Hasan, who also depends on medical care in the UK, was informed that he was to be deported to Israel, separating him from his family in the UK. He filed an asylum claim but in 2022, it was denied, forcing him to appeal.

In recent months, as Israel’s post-October 7 attacks on Gaza has brought Palestinians’ human rights into the international spotlight.

Hasan’s lawyers argued that if he was returned to Israel, he’d face “likely persecution” because he is Palestinian, because he is Muslim, and because of “his anti-Zionist, anti-apartheid and pro-Palestinian political opinion.”

In reversal of the original judgement, Hasan was told that he’d be allowed to stay – without having to go to court. His lawyers say this is a precedent-setting recognition by the British state of the Israeli government’s persecution of Palestinians.

“This is a victory not just for me but for all Palestinians living under the apartheid Israeli regime,” Hasan wrote in a statement.

“Without even having to step into court, the UK government has now accepted that the Palestinian struggle for freedom should not just be limited to Gaza and the West Bank but to all parts of historic Palestine under Israeli rule.”

Legal experts say the fallout from Hasan’s case have an impact outside the UK, also affecting Palestinian refugees claiming asylum in places like the US.

Hasan’s barrister, Franck Magennis, said the decision was: “completely unprecedented,” and that it amounted to an acknowledgment that even Palestinians with Israeli citizenship are likely to experience violence and harm at the hands of the Israeli state.

“It amounts to admission by the British state that there’s a real risk that Israel persecutes at least some of its own Palestinian citizens, whether because they’re anti-Zionist or simply because they’re Palestinian.”

The decision is the first case in which a Palestinian citizen of Israel has successfully won asylum in the UK on an argument that an apartheid system of racial domination systematically oppresses Palestinian citizens.

On a page set up to crowdfund his legal support, Hasan said he wanted to emphasise the apartheid element of his case.

“My previous solicitors dropped my case because they were nervous that I wanted to put the spotlight on Israeli apartheid as part of my asylum case,” he said.

His new lawyers argued a case around the 1951 Refugee Convention and highlighted several non-governmental organisation and United Nations-affiliated reports demonstrating that Palestinians, even those who are not among the million actively under starvation and bombardment in Gaza, are being prohibited from leading a full and equitable life within the Israeli state.

*A UK tribunal ordered Hasan’s real identity not be disclosed for his own protection.