Israeli Instruments of Forced Transfer;
Palestinian Residency Rights in Jerusalem

Israeli Instruments of Forced Transfer; <br> Palestinian Residency Rights in Jerusalem
Jerusalem is a city under occupation. Israel’s annexation of East Jerusalem in 1967 and the subsequent application of Israeli laws, jurisdiction and administrative protocol are illegal under International Humanitarian Law. A recent announcement that the EU’s foreign ministers would recognize East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state reiterates the occupied status of the city. Under international law the status of East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza are identical, yet since 1967 Israel has implemented a series of policies to alter the physical and demographic status of Jerusalem in order to ensure it remains under Israeli control. The structured dismantle of Palestinian communities in Jerusalem by the consecutive governments of Israel  has been facilitated by house demolitions, the appropriation and annexation of lands, the construction of Jewish Settlements, and by a web of state bureaucracy and laws that limit the expansion and development of Palestinian communities whilst promoting the growth of Jewish areas. The legal status of Palestinian Jerusalemites has changed drastically since 1967 and remains ambiguous and restrictive.  In 2008, Israel arbitrarily revoked the residency of 4,577 Palestinians in Jerusalem and since 1967 has revoked the residency of over 8,300 Palestinian Jerusalemites. The loss of residency rights for Palestinians in Jerusalem means losing the right to live and work in the city, the right to access basic services and the right to mobility within and outside of Israel.
Depriving Palestinians the Right to Live in Jerusalem
The Israeli occupation of Jerusalem has brought with it drastic changes to the physical, geographic, demographic and legal status of the city. Although Jerusalem was annexed by Israel and declared in 1980 to be the united and sovereign capital, Palestinians in Jerusalem did not become citizens of Israel, instead retained Jordanian passports, and were granted the ‘right to permanent residency’. Being considered residents as opposed to citizens’ means that Palestinians are not entitled to the rights enshrined by the nationality law of 1952, meaning, for example, that they cannot vote in national elections and cannot obtain an Israeli passport. Under the 1952 entry to Israel law, exit and entry to Israel for Palestinian ‘residents’ is severely restricted. Whilst Israeli ‘citizens’ have the right to enter and leave freely, Palestinian Jerusalemites risk losing their right to permanent residency if they leave Jerusalem to study or work abroad as they have to apply for a ‘re-entry’ visa which is not granted automatically.
In certain cases many Palestinian ‘residents’ are not allowed to even leave Israel on the grounds that they may threaten the security of the state.
The basis on which Palestinians were granted residency following the 1967 occupation was arbitrary and discriminatory. The right to residency in Jerusalem was limited to Palestinians who happened to be in the city at the time that a census took place, meaning anyone who was outside of Jerusalem for whatever reasons, despite having been born there, was legally excluded from residency.  The arbitrary distribution of residency served to reduce the number of Palestinians officially registered as residents and places Palestinian Jerusalemites in a permanent state of legal insecurity.
Furthermore, after 1988, the Israeli Ministry of Interior declared the right to withdraw Jerusalem ID cards from Palestinians living outside of the city boundaries effectively excluding them from residency rights. This means that if any Palestinian resident applies for citizenship or residence elsewhere they automatically forfeit the right to return to Jerusalem. Additionally, if a Palestinian with a Jerusalem ID wishes to marry someone from abroad or from the West Bank or the Gaza Strip they, must apply for family reunification in order to live legally with their spouses. Under the Nationality and entry into Israel law, the minister of the interior ceased to issue permanent or temporary residency visas to any residents of the West Bank or Gaza Strip, therefore preventing Palestinians living outside of Jerusalem from entering the city through marriage hence breaking the personal and cultural ties that Palestinian communities in and outside Jerusalem share.  The ‘centre of life’ policy introduced by  Israel in 1995, also increases the legal pressure on Palestinians by forcing them to prove their continuous residency by submitting various documents such as bills or school certificates. This policy saw the number of ID cards being revoked from Palestinians increase by 600% following its implementation. In extreme cases, Palestinians studying or working abroad may become stateless as they do not have legal status in the host country and Israel has revoked their right to residency in Israel.
Forced Transfer
Therefore, in addition to implementing policies since 1967 to restrict the number of Palestinians obtaining Jerusalem ID’s, Israel has issued a parallel policy to revoke the residency rights of Palestinians already granted the right to live in Jerusalem. These policies have, since 1967, created a situation of legal insecurity for communities that were once well established. The unilateral Israeli reshaping of the Jerusalem municipal boundaries has also served to displace thousands of Palestinians Jerusalemites.
For example, in 1967 Israel declared a new municipal boundary in contrast to the UN proposed boundary of 1947. In the process of redrawing this boundary, 155,700 Palestinians were excluded from the ‘new’ Jerusalem, even though these communities had always been considered part of the city. Furthermore, the risk of displacement is growing as the segregation wall nears completion. Israel have designed the wall to further exclude Palestinian communities meaning that upon completion over 143,000 Palestinian Jerusalemites will no longer be part of the city. Accordingly, all of these Palestinians will become former Jerusalemites, and, will therefore lose the limited rights that they enjoyed before under the Jerusalem ID card.
It is also important to contextualize the situation. Palestinian Jerusalemites have a legal status equivalent to that of immigrants or foreigners, even though they have lived in the city for generations. This is in direct contrast to the status of Jews who are actually immigrants yet are entitled under the law of ‘right of return’ to full citizenship rights and a legal status, which implies they have always lived in the land. It is indeed a ridiculous legal paradox whereby immigrants are treated like native citizens, whilst native citizens are treated like immigrants.
Israeli policies regarding residency rights therefore imply that it is a privilege for Palestinians to live in Jerusalem and not necessarily a right. This legal insecurity for Palestinian Jerusalemites is one of many policies to induce the forced transfer of Palestinian communities in Jerusalem and demographically re-design the city to hold a Jewish majority. It goes without saying that all of the policies applied to Palestinian Jerusalemites do not apply to Jewish Jerusalemites, and that a Jew currently living anywhere in the world that has never set foot in Israel could, if he/she so chooses, be eligible for more legal rights in the city than a Palestinian who has roots stretching back centuries. This is part of Israeli plans to create a united and sovereign capital in Jerusalem despite the international illegality of such a plan. Indeed, that the recent temporary ‘freeze’ on West Bank settlements excluded Jerusalem is testament to the Israeli position that the city is not up for negotiation. Forced transfer and displacement are clear and consistent policies designed to empty the city of Palestinians and re-populate Jerusalem with Jews. Indeed this has been a consistent policy in all of Palestine stretching back to the ethnic cleansing of 1948 Palestine, as David Ben Gurion himself declared in 1938; ‘I support forced transfer and see nothing unethical in it’.

Prepared by  

The Applied Research Institute – Jerusalem

Categories: Israeli Violations