Thursday, December 3, 2009

Israeli Rights Group: Record Number Of Palestinian East Jerusalem Residency Rights Revoked

According to the Israeli human rights group Hamoked: Center for the Defence of the Individual, Israel has stripped a record number of Palestinians of their residency rights in East Jerusalem:

In 2008, the Ministry of the Interior revoked the Israeli residency status of 4,577 residents of East Jerusalem – including 99 minors: The number of cases of revocation of residency in 2008 alone is equal to approximately one half the total number of cases of residency revocation between 1967 and 2007

The government stated that those living abroad lost such residency rights:

...according to the Israeli rights organisation Hamoked, if these Palestinians live abroad for seven years, or gain citizenship or residency elsewhere, they lose their Israeli residency.

...Hamoked executive director Dalia Kerstein said the phenomenon had "reached frightening dimensions."

...The figures come amid Palestinian fears that Israel is trying to increase its control over East Jerusalem and cut it off from the West Bank, through the building of the West Bank barrier, house demolitions and evictions.

These policies and the tensions they provoke were displayed recently in Sheik Jarrah:

Jewish nationalists and Palestinians clashed in an East Jerusalem neighborhood on Tuesday after the Israelis took over a house by court order in a predominantly Arab area. The confrontation further strained tensions in this contested city, where competing Israeli and Palestinian claims have become a sticking point in the Obama administration’s efforts to restart peace talks.

The house at the center of Tuesday’s flare-up is in Sheik Jarrah, a district just north of the Old City, where three Palestinian families have been evicted from other houses in the last year after losing a lengthy legal battle in the High Court and lower district and magistrates courts.

A Jewish association won its claim to historical ownership of the land in question, and has plans to build a large Jewish housing complex there.

One wonders if the regulation regarding the seven-year absence applies only to Jerusalem and to Palestinians. Further, does the necessity to prove historical ownership also apply to those living in West Bank settlements built, at least in part, on private Palestinian land, as contested by another Israeli rights group, Yesh Din? Most importantly, the Palestinians envision East Jerusalem as the capital of a future state; continued Israeli development there makes a two-state solution impossible.

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