- On April 7, 2011, HaMoked: Center for the Defense of
the Individual and the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) filed
a petition, demanding that Israel's Interior Ministry stop revoking residency
permits given East Jerusalem Palestinians.
- After its June 1967 annexation, life for Palestinian
residents became an ongoing cycle of neglect, discrimination, poverty,
shortages, and persecution, compounded by the encircling Separation Wall
and worsening daily hardships.
- Moreover, though no longer, as permanent Israeli residents,
they were afforded the right to live and work in Israel without special
permits. However, permanent residency, unlike citizenship, passes on conditionally
to children. For example, marrying someone without one and/or the other
requires applying for family unification to live together. In fact, Israel
treats East Jerusalem Arabs as foreigners, whose rights can be summarily
revoked, denied, or severely restricted any time for any reason by civil
or military order.
- As a result, residents endure repeated investigations
and inquiries to keep proving their legitimacy, letting authorities arbitrarily
deny it. In addition, time and expense are involved, including for services
and applications that can take months or years to be considered.
- Moreover, many Palestinians live outside Jerusalem's
municipal boundaries with no Israeli residency status. Severed from the
West Bank by the Separation Wall, they're trapped in East Jerusalem in
limbo. In October 2007, Israel denied them permanent residency, issuing
only temporary permits under military authority.
- Even getting them involves cost and bureaucratic red
tape, and those with them may live in their homes, but not work or drive
in Jerusalem. Nor can they get education, health, or other services. As
a result, they've been ghettoized under severe, unrelenting duress as foreigners
in their own homes on their own land in their own country.
- HaMoked and ACRI want Israel's Interior Ministry to amend
the current law to include special protection clauses for Palestinians
residing in annexed areas, including East Jerusalem and Golan, so they
may exit and enter their country freely.
- They differentiate them from immigrants who acquired
residency through marriage to an Israeli citizen who would still have to
keep proving their "center-of-life" status in the city.
- Current law lets Israel's Interior Ministry revoke residency
status (and issued permits proving it) for natives or immigrants who lived
outside the country for seven or more years, or who acquired citizenship
or permanent residency abroad.
- Moreover, authorities regularly revoke residency permits
without notice or hearings, those affected denied their right to challenge
what's already happened. As a result, they learn after the fact that they're
barred from their homeland.
- Most East Jerusalem Palestinians are permanent residents.
Thus, revoking their status arbitrarily infringes on the rights of many
thousands who wish to study, work or live abroad for any purpose. In recent
years, revocations rose sharply under an undeclared ethnic cleansing policy
to Judaize all Jerusalem by removing its Arab presence.
- Thousands are now affected annually. In fact, almost
50% of all post-1967 revocations occurred from 2006 - 2008.
- Petitioning Israel's High Court of Justice for Redress
- On April 7, HaMoked and ACRI petitioned Israel's High
Court on behalf of Mahmoud Qarae'en, a 26-year old East Jerusalem Silwan
resident and ACRI field researcher for its Human Rights in East Jerusalem
project. He told the Electronic Intifada publication:
- "People feel that they are under siege. I cannot
do anything to risk the possibility of not coming back (home). We should
be treated as (Jerusalem's) indigenous people....We are not guests. We
are from here and we should be able to leave and come back (freely) if
- HaMoked's April 7 petition on his behalf asked Israel's
- "to determine that with respect to East Jerusalem
residents, for whom this piece of earth is home, permanent residency visas
cannot expire, even following extended period of living abroad or the acquisition
of status in another country."
- Current laws originated in the High Court's Awad case:
- HCJ 282/88 - Awad v. Yitzhak Shamir, Prime Minister and
Minister of Interior et al in May 1988 in which it ruled that although
Israel annexed East Jerusalem and gave its residents permanent status,
it may be revoked due to "center-of-life" transference elsewhere.
- As a result, the Interior Ministry used the ruling repressively
against Palestinians, penalizing them for leaving the city or accepting
status abroad by denying them unrestricted reentry.
- Beginning in the mid-1990s, the policy became known as
the "Quiet Deportation" practice of revoking residency for thousands
of East Jerusalemites. Receiving only an after-the-fact form letter, they
were told their permanent resident status expired for settling outside
Israel. In 2008, nearly 4,600 Palestinians were affected.
- The joint petition claimed the status of East Jerusalem
residents differs from elsewhere in Palestine because after annexation,
its residents forcibly became permanent Israeli residents. Under the Awad
decision, they got it by law permanently.
- Moreover, East Jerusalem is belligerently occupied. Under
international law, its residents are protected persons, entitled to appropriate
guarantees. Applying Israeli law to the city doesn't abrogate them. In
addition, for women who settle abroad or in the West Bank with their husbands,
their family and city of origin remain vitally important, including as
a refuge in case of divorce or separation.
- Israel's Interior Ministry turned "Awad" into
a "legal cage," imprisoning East Jerusalemites, denying them
free movement within or outside the city. As a result, HaMoked and ACRI
petitioned the High Court to rule permanency can't expire, no matter how
long residents live or work abroad or if they acquire foreign status.
- Israel's Repressive ID/Permit System
- Nonetheless, Israel's longstanding ID/permit system for
all Palestinians is used repressively to revoke residency status, especially
in East Jerusalem. It's one of many ways employed to make greater Israel
ethnically pure, including by military order.
- Israel requires all permanent residents and citizens
over 16 to have color-coded ID cards (called te'udat zehut) for West Bank
and Gazan Palestinians, as well as East Jerusalem ones, Israeli Arabs and
- For Palestinians, they dictate where they may live, work,
and move, or be allowed through West Bank checkpoints, to Israel or Gaza.
Doing so requires hard to get permits, easily cancelled without notice.
- Jews have blue IDs, Palestinians either Israeli-issued
orange ones (in Hebrew) or nearly identical Palestinian Authority-issued
green ones with a PA seal on top, that include the following information:
- -- name and ID number;
- -- father and mother's names;
- -- date and place of birth;
- -- religion;
- -- marital status;
- -- gender; and
- -- photo.
- Prior to 2005, ethnicity was also included. It's still
available on request from state registrations.
- A separate document includes:
- -- current and previous addresses;
- -- previous names;
- -- citizenship, including for permanent resident citizens
of other countries;
- -- name, birth date and ID numbers for spouse and children;
- -- electoral polling stamp.
- In theory, Jerusalem Palestinians may move freely within
the city and through most of the West Bank. In practice, harsh security
measures prevent it, as well as their right to work in Israel, pay taxes,
and get national insurance benefits. In addition, as explained above, their
Jerusalem residency isn't guaranteed.
- Israeli Arabs are citizens, their ID cards identifying
their religion. Again theoretically, they have free access to the West
Bank and Jerusalem. In practice, they're stopped, questioned, delayed,
and denied access to West Bank cities and East Jerusalem by military order.
The Separation Wall and Gaza's siege add other impediments.
- In contrast, Israeli and settlement Jews have unrestricted
free movement throughout the West Bank and Jerusalem, unimpeded by the
Separation Wall or repressive military orders, not applicable to them under
- Rarely does Israel's High Court rule favorably for Palestinians.
Even then, government authorities do what they please, at times through
newly passed repressive laws to assure no rights for anyone not Jewish,
- A Final Comment
- On April 14, ACRI's President Sami Michael expressed
alarm about dark Knesset forces "persist(ing) in their attempts to
restrict the freedoms of speech and assembly; nationalist politicians try(ing)
to enhance the alienation and exclusion of Israel's Arab citizens;"
and the repressive occupation "tak(ing) an ever-stronger hold, trampling
human rights values and pushing us ever further into estrangement from
- Nonetheless, despite racist legislation, assaults on
free expression, oppressing migrant workers, and enforcing occupation harshness,
he cited popular uprisings across Middle East/North African countries as
a hopeful sign, perhaps "inspir(ing) Israel's human rights defenders
- The struggle is universal, never succeeding easily, quickly,
or so often not at all. For sure, not without sustained, determined effort,
no matter the odds. In America, Israel and Occupied Palestine, they're
- Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at
firstname.lastname@example.org. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com
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