The Knesset passed a law Wednesday, March 7, allowing the Minister of the Interior to revoke the permanent residency status of Palestinians living in occupied East Jerusalem who “engage in terror or other anti-Israel activities.” Furthermore, under this law, the state can deport anyone whose permanent residency status has been withdrawn.
Specifically, the government-sponsored law defines three situations in which the Minister of the Interior can revoke the permanent residency status of a Palestinian living in occupied East Jerusalem: “If the status was granted under false pretenses, if the resident endangered public safety or security, or if he/she betrays the State of Israel.”
The law applies to all Arab residents of East Jerusalem. It was drawn up after the Supreme Court last year overturned a revoking of the permanent residency of four East Jerusalem men that had been done more than a decade earlier.
In January 2006, Mohammed Abu Tier, Ahmad Attoun and Muhammad Totah were elected to the Palestinian Legislative Council as representatives of Hamas. The fourth man, Khaled Abu Arafeh, was the Minister for Jerusalem Affairs in the short-lived government of Ismail Haniyeh. Then-Minister of the Interior Roni Bar-On rescinded their residency on grounds of disloyalty to Israel.
Last year the Supreme Court ruled that Bar-On had exceeded his authority by annulling the men’s permanent residency status. Nevertheless, the court froze the ruling for half a year to allow the Knesset an opportunity to pass legislation that would allow the rescinding of their residency status.
Hadash MK Dov Khenin (Joint List) called the law “bad and dangerous legislation. The mechanism created by this law will bring the Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem into the worst of all possible worlds. Residents of East Jerusalem live there not because they chose to be Israelis but because it is their home. You are in effect creating an obligation of loyalty for people for whom there is no connection of loyalty between them and the State of Israel.”
Almost 300,000 Palestinians living in occupied East Jerusalem hold permanent residence permits issued by the Israeli Ministry of Interior, and the “Entry into Israel Law” is the primary law that regulates IDs, birth and death certificates, marriage registration and issues travel documents. Since 1967, Israel has revoked the residency permits of more than 14,000 Palestinians, forcing them to leave Jerusalem.