Issue No.
157, May 2011 Latest update 9 2014f August 2014, at 4.39 am
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New security measures in the Old City of Jerusalem.
Palestinian children in Jerusalem.

Making Discrimination Legal: How the Law Attacks Palestinians in Al Quds
By Mousa Qous
Since Israel illegally occupied the Palestinian territories, it was supposed to abide by the Law of Belligerent Occupation, which is based on the Fourth Geneva Convention and regulations attached to the Hague Convention of 1907. I remember when, on 5 June 1967, Israel’s foreign minister Abba Eban sent a letter to the United Nations, stating that Israel would “protect the rights of the all peoples living in the city, Christian and Muslims.”

However, Israeli authorities’ strategy in occupied Jerusalem-as part of its demographic battle-was based on two tactics. First, they wanted to move as many Jews as possible into East Jerusalem and second, they wanted to move as many Arabs as possible out of the city entirely. This strategy was exposed by Amir Cheshin-who served as a senior advisor on Arab Community Affairs and assistant to former Jerusalem Mayor Teddy Kollek-in his co-authored book: Separate & Unequal: The Inside Story of Israeli Rule in East Jerusalem.

When the Israeli parliament approved the draft law for the annexation of Jerusalem on 27 June 1967, it did not annex the population of approximately 68,000 Palestinians, who were counted by the population census. The census excluded several thousands of Palestinians who happened to not be in the city when the census was conducted which amounted to the exclusion of 18.8% of the entire population of East and West Jerusalem.

Consequently, Israel granted the counted Palestinians the status of permanent residents in the city, enabling them to travel in Israel, work, receive social benefits, and enjoy the right to vote in local (but not the parliamentary) elections.

The Law of Entry to Israel of 1952, stipulates that permanent residency could be forfeited if its holder lives in a foreign country for seven years and that includes the Palestinians living outside the municipal borders of Jerusalem as delineated by the Israeli authorities. In comparison, Jews from all corners of the world have the right to Israeli citizenship under the Law of Return of 1950.

In 1973, the Israeli ministerial committee, known as the "Gavni Commission" laid down the policy that the city’s demographic balance must be maintained at a ratio of 70% Jews to 30% Palestinians.

In 1995, Israel authorities introduced the regulation of the “Centre of Life,” which requires the Palestinians prove that they continuously live and work in Jerusalem, in order to register their children, renew their identity cards, or even to apply for social benefits.

Two years after al-Aqsa Intifada which began in September 2000, Israel adopted the Temporary Order Law, Number 1813, Nationality and Entry into Israeli Law, which prohibited Palestinians who had no residency rights or Israeli citizenship from uniting with their spouses who are holders of East Jerusalem ID cards or have Israeli citizenship. Following several petitions by various human rights to the Supreme Court, however, Israel removed the freeze, but conditioned that women should turn 25 and the men 35 in order to be eligible and still could take years to process.

In 2008, Israeli Ministry of Interior revoked the residency status of 4,577 Palestinians, including 99 minors, totalling approximately half the number of residency revoked between 1967 and 2007. According to JCSER data, Israel has revoked the residency rights of 14,466 Palestinians since 1967 until the end of 2010.
On 13 April 2010, the Israeli Order Regarding the Prevention of Infiltration (Amendment No. 2) entered into effect. It applies to Palestinians whom Israel considers to reside illegally in Jerusalem. According to the law any “infiltrator” in Jerusalem might be fined and sent to jail for seven years. There are an estimated 10,000 Palestinian children living in East Jerusalem without being registered on their parents’ identity cards. The population of such children who cannot register at public schools or receive medical care due to their non-registration is estimated to be 23.6%.

On 20 May 2010, Israel revoked the residency of the Palestinian parliamentarian, Mohammad Abu Teir after he had served four years in prison. He was among the 45 PLC members who were arrested after the abduction of Israeli Soldier Gilad Shalit in 2006.

On 28 March 2011, the Israeli parliament passed the bill of “Citizenship Loyalty” which calls upon the government to revoke the citizenship or the permanent status of any person convicted in terrorist activity or espionage on behalf of a terrorist organization. Under Israeli’s definition of “terrorist activity,” this bill put more than 525 Palestinian prisoners of Jerusalem-including 6 women and 12 children-under the threat of losing their residency rights.

The segregation Wall around and in Jerusalem has already isolated 120,000 holders of Jerusalem ID cards, a fact that means they are under imminent threat of losing their legal status as Jerusalem residents. The issue is a matter of a decision by Israel if it turns to consider the wall as its final borders. But the international community has rejected Israel’s claim to both West and East Jerusalem as its "eternal undivided capital’’ and has consistently denounced Israeli attempts to change the status of the city.

The time is right for speaking out against Israeli discriminatory policies, which are really pushing Israel towards establishing an ugly apartheid regime. This fact urges the international community for actions to implement dozens of the international resolutions that call for ending one of the longest occupations in modern history, lest it push the Middle East region towards more wars. Israel should grasp the opportunity to make progress in emancipating the Palestinians from its grip, or else it will fall victim to the political tsunami that will sweep the entire Middle East region.

Mousa Qous is the senior researcher at the Jerusalem Center for Social and Economic Rights (JCSER).

Article photos by George Azar.

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