The Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz reported, on Wednesday, December 2, that there has been a sharp increase in the number of Palestinians stripped of their Jerusalem residency rights.
The paper added that the Israeli Interior Ministry has increased the pace of the withdrawal of residency rights of those Palestinians, as the number of Eastern Jerusalemites whose residency has been revoked in 2008 is 4,577 individuals, which means an increase by more than 21 times in 40 years. At the same time, "of all the East Jerusalem Arabs who have lost their residency rights since 1967 [8,558 Arabs], about 35 percent did so in 2008."
It explained that the reason for this high percentage is due to the decision by former Interior Minister Meir Sheetrit (Kadima) and Yaakov Ganot, who headed the ministry's Population Administration, to investigate the legal status of thousands of East Jerusalem residents in March and April, 2008. The Ministry of Interior discovered that thousands of those who are registered as East Jerusalem residents do not live in the city, and most of them do not even live in the West Bank, but live abroad, including 99 minors under the age of 18; they were, therefore, stripped of their residency.
The paper quoted Attorney Yotam Ben-Hillel of Hamoked: Center for the Defense of the Individual, as saying that the 250,000 Arab residents of East Jerusalem have the same legal status as people who immigrated to Israel legally but are not entitled to citizenship under the Law of Return.
Hamoked's executive director, Dalia Kerstein, said, "The Interior Ministry operation in 2008 is just part of a general policy whose goal is to restrict the size of the Palestinian population and maintain a Jewish majority in Jerusalem. The Palestinians are natives of this city, not Johnny-come-latelys."