Policy that cleansed 140,000 Palestinians from W. Bank still imposed on Jerusalemites

An Israeli legal advisor has admitted that the state stripped residency rights from more than 140,000 Palestinians between 1967-1994, the Israeli daily Haaretz reported today.

Israel revoked Palestinians’ residency rights by requiring them to relinquish their ID cards at the Allenby Bridge border crossing with Jordan. Entry to the West Bank was conditioned on Palestinians giving up their IDs in exchange for a card valid for three years and renewable up to three times, adding another year with each renewal.

According to Haaretz:

If a Palestinian did not return within six months of the card’s expiration, thier documents would be sent to the regional census supervisor. Residents who failed to return on time were registered as NLRs - no longer residents. The document makes no mention of any warning or information that the Palestinians received about the process.

The effect of this procedure is that Palestinian families were forced to give up their lives in occupied Palestine. Numbers from the Central Bureau of Statistics, cited by Haaretz, show how this has been a means of “cleansing” Palestinians from their homeland:

The Central Bureau of Statistics says the West Bank’s Palestinian population amounted to 1.05 million in 1994, which means the population would have been greater by about 14 percent if it weren’t for the procedure.

Meanwhile, Israel was building settlements and other infrastructure to strengthen its grip on the occupied West Bank during that same time period.

The ID revocation policy was reportedly changed after Oslo, but a similar policy is currently in place regarding Palestinians with residency in occupied East Jerusalem.

Last month, The Electronic Intifada reported that Israel was silently pushing Palestinians out of occupied East Jerusalem by revoking their residency rights. Israeli law stiuplates that if a person has resided outside of the country for seven years, he or she has effectively reliquished his or her residency rights.

Thousands of Palestinians have been impacted by this legislation. The Electronic Intifada reported:

As permanent residents, Palestinians in East Jerusalem have the right to live and work in Israel yet are denied other provisions that come with full Israeli citizenship. For instance, unlike citizenship, permanent residency is only passed on to a person’s children if certain conditions are met, including most notably proving that one’s “center of life” is in Jerusalem.

The Israeli interior ministry introduced the “center of life” policy in 1995, placing the burden of proof on Palestinians to show that their day-to-day life takes place in the city. Electricity, telephone and tax bills, and school or work certificates are some of the documents Palestinians can use to prove that their center of life is in Jerusalem.

If they fail to prove this, Palestinians can be stripped of their residency rights and, by extension, forced to leave East Jerusalem.


Maureen Clare Murphy

Maureen Clare Murphy's picture

Maureen Clare Murphy is the managing editor of The Electronic Intifada and lives in Chicago.