PHOTO: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is considering the revocation of permanent residency status of people in East Jerusalem, amid rising violence between Israelis and Palestinians in the area as well as the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
Israel’s Channel 2 said Netanyahu raised the idea in a Cabinet meeting two weeks ago, amid discussion of tougher security measures.
“We need to examine the possibility of canceling their residency. There needs to be a discussion about it,” the Prime Minister reportedly said.
Some ministers objected to the measure — not because of the effect on about 80,000, but because it would be an effective acceptance of a divided Jerusalem. Successive Governments have maintained that a united city is the religious center and political capital of Israel.
“[This] is a far-reaching decision which requires a referendum, because it would involve giving up territory,” Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz reportedly said.
Israel captured East Jerusalem in 1967 and extended its sovereignty to the area in 1980, granting the populace a permanent resident status that ensures many of the same rights as citizenship.
However, in recent weeks, a de facto division has begun with the cutting-off of some Arab neighborhoods by Israeli security forces, using concrete blocks and temporary checkpoints.
Last week, Netanyahu ordered a halt to the placement of the concrete slabs between Jewish areas and East Jerusalem neighborhoods, after several members of the Knesset criticized the construction of a 300-meter wall between the predominantly Jewish area of Armon Hanatziv and the adjacent southeastern Arab neighborhood of Jabel Mukaber.
A government source insisted, “There is no such process to revoke the residency or citizenship of thousands of people.”
However, Jerusalem’s local government is reportedly considering measures that would require Arab East Jerusalem residents to acquire papers to enter the western part of the city.
Since October 1, at least 58 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli security forces, while 10 Israelis have been slain in stabbings or shootings by Palestinian attackers.
On Monday, a Palestinian man was shot and killed after stabbing and seriously injuring an Israeli near the West Bank city of Hebron. There were conflicting reports over whether the Israeli was a soldier or a settler.
A day earlier, Israeli border police shot and killed a 17-year-old Palestinian girl near the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron, claiming they saw “a knife in her hand”.