Ministry of Interior data: 40 East Jerusalem Palestinians were stripped of their permanent residency status in 2019 as part of Israel’s “quiet deportation” policy; a significant increase compared to 2018
In early January 2020, as in every year, HaMoked submitted to the Ministry of Interior an application under the Freedom of Information Law for information on revocations of permanent residency status of East Jerusalem Palestinians for the year 2019. The application was sent as part of HaMoked's ongoing campaign to stop Israel's “quiet deportation” of East Jerusalem Palestinians, implemented since late 1995
. The Ministry sent a partial response only on May 26, 2020, a day after HaMoked petitioned the court on this issue. A month later, following HaMoked’s demand, the Ministry sent a complete and updated response.
According to the data supplied by the Ministry of Interior, in 2019, Israel revoked the residency of 40 East Jerusalem Palestinians, including 17 women and 2 minors. Of the total, 30 were away from Israel on the date of the revocation. This is a significant increase compared to the previous year, in which 13 people were deprived of their status. Initially, the Ministry of Interior refused to disclose the number of minors stripped of residency, on the implausible pretext of a “right to privacy”, but later provided it on HaMoked’s insistence (this is a repeat of the ministry’s conduct regarding the data request for 2018).
According to the Ministry of Interior's figures supplied over the years
, between 1967 and 2019, Israel revoked the status of 14,683 Palestinians from East Jerusalem on the grounds that their status “expired of itself”
The Ministry of Interior also stated that there were no changes in its policy of not revoking the status of Jerusalemites who “maintain a connection” to the city. Permanent residents who live in the Jerusalem “seam” neighborhoods or moved to live in other parts of the West Bank will not lose their status. Nor will those who live abroad – provided they visit Israel periodically.
Additionally, the Ministry of Interior disclosed that in 2019, 45 East Jerusalem Palestinians had their status reinstated. 66 requests for status-reinstatement were filed in 2019; of them 1 was approved, 6 were refused and the rest are still pending. Of the 45 Jerusalemites whose status was reinstated in 2019, 24 had filed their request in 2015, 8 in 2016, and the others in the remaining years from 2008-2019.
It should be noted in this context, that in June 2019, HaMoked petitioned
the Jerusalem District Court to demand temporary status be given to the children of East Jerusalem residents undergoing a status restoration procedure, to ensure their access to health services and social security rights while their parent awaits status restoration.
Additionally, in September 2019, HaMoked petitioned the High Court of Justice (HCJ) to cancel the March 2018 amendment to the Entry into Israel Law
, which authorizes the Minister of Interior to revoke status due to "breach of allegiance to the State of Israel". According to Ministry of Interior data (supplied in response to a freedom of information request HaMoked sent in October 2019), as of December 2, 2019, the Minister of Interior sent a notice about the intention to revoke status for breach of allegiance to 12 permanent residents in 2018, and 10 in 2019. The Minister actually revoked the status of five permanent residents in connection to attacks against Israelis they had either committed or were involved in; three of them were stripped of their status in 2018
and two others in 2019
. HaMoked petitioned the court to revoke the Minister’s decision on behalf of four of the men, and its petitions are still pending.
Moreover, in September 2019, the Minister of Interior issued a renewed decision to revoke the permanent status of a woman living in Jerusalem for over 30 years, a status she acquired through her marriage to a resident of the city. The formal grounds of revocation in her case was her alleged bigamous marriage, but the Minister’s clear and express motivation for revoking her status was an attack against Israelis perpetrated by her son. HaMoked’s repeat appeal
on her behalf, filed to the Appeals Tribunal, is still pending.
HaMoked reiterates that the situation of East Jerusalem residents is unlike that of any other permanent resident, as the area in question was annexed by Israel and its inhabitants were compelled to become permanent residents of Israel. They are an indigenous population and their status cannot be subject to revocation or expiration. The High Court of Justice has also recognized the unique status of East Jerusalem residents
– for whom this piece of land is home. The law must recognize that the residency rights of East Jerusalem Palestinians cannot expire even following a lengthy stay abroad or the acquisition of status in another country, nor be revoked on allegations of breach of allegiance.