Jerusalem (IINA) � Israel's revocations of the residency status of thousands of Palestinians from East Jerusalem over the years illustrates the two-tiered system Israel maintains in the city, Human Rights Watch said Tuesday.
The HRW said that residency system imposes onerous requirements on Palestinians to maintain their status, with significant consequences for those who don't.
Between the start of Israel's occupation of East Jerusalem in 1967 and the end of 2016, Israel revoked the status of at least 14,595 Palestinians from East Jerusalem, according to the Israeli Interior Ministry. Authorities have justified most revocations based on a failure to prove a center of life in Jerusalem but, in recent years, they have also revoked status to punish Palestinians accused of attacking Israelis and as collective punishment against relatives of suspected assailants. The discriminatory system pushes many Palestinians to leave their home city in what amounts to forcible transfers, a serious violation of international law.
Israel claims to treat Jerusalem as a unified city, but the reality is effectively one set of rules for Jews and another for Palestinians, said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director of HRW. Entrenched discrimination against Palestinians in Jerusalem, including residency policies that imperil their legal status, feeds the alienation of the city's residents.
After occupying East Jerusalem in 1967, Israel annexed and began applying its domestic law to the area. It applied the 1952 Law of Entry to Palestinians from East Jerusalem and offered them permanent residency, the same status afforded to a foreigner who wants to live in Israel. Permanent residents may live, work, and receive benefits in Israel, but that status derives from their presence, which can be withdrawn if one settles outside of Israel. It does not automatically pass to one's children or non-resident spouse and can be revoked at the Interior Ministry's discretion.
It added that residency revocations, alongside decades of unlawful settlement expansion, home demolitions, and restrictions on building in the city, have increased unlawful settlement by Israeli Jewish citizens in occupied East Jerusalem while restricting the growth of the occupied Palestinian population.
This reality reflects the Israeli government's goal of maintaining a solid Jewish majority in the city, as stated in the Jerusalem municipality's master plan Jerusalem Outline Plan 2000, and limiting the number of Palestinian residents. Originally setting a target ratio of 70 percent Jews and 30 percent Arab, planners later acknowledged that this goal is not attainable in light of the demographic trend and adjusted to a 60-40 target. Palestinians constituted 37 percent of Jerusalem's population in 2015, according to Israel's Central Bureau of Statistics.
Source: International Islamic News Agency