Israel is maintaining a two-tier system in Jerusalem, Human Rights Watch has warned, adding that this is illustrated by the fact that the residency of thousands of Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem has been revoked over the years.
“Deportation or forced transfers of any part of the population of an occupied territory could amount to war crimes under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court,” the rights group warned.
Data provided by the organisation states that from the beginning of Israel’s occupation of Jerusalem in 1967 until the end of 2016, the residency of at least 14,595 Palestinians from East Jerusalem was revoked, according to the Israeli Ministry of Interior.
The authorities justified most of the revocations on the grounds that they did not prove that Jerusalem was “the centre of their lives”. They have also recently revoked the residence of Palestinians accused of attacking Israelis as punishment for them and a collective punishment for the relatives of suspects.
Israel claims to treat Jerusalem as a unified city, but the reality is effectively one set of rules for Jews and another for Palestinians
said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “Entrenched discrimination against Palestinians in Jerusalem, including residency policies that imperil their legal status, feeds the alienation of the city’s residents.”
A human rights report quoted a man who said that Israel had revoked his residency because he climbing the illegal Separation Wall to attend a family wedding in another part of the occupied West Bank. He confirmed that the Israeli authorities refused to issue birth certificates for his five children who were born in Jerusalem.
Read more: What is the PA doing for Jerusalem?
The lack of residency permits left Palestinians unable to legally work, receive welfare benefits, attend family weddings or funerals or visit sick relatives abroad.
HRW said this reflects the Israeli government’s goal of “maintaining a solid Jewish majority in the city,” as stated in the Jerusalem municipality’s master plan (“Jerusalem Outline Plan 2000”), and limiting the number of Palestinian residents.
Though some Palestinian residents of occupied East Jerusalem are eligible to apply for Israeli citizenship, the majority refuse to do so because of the requirement to pledge allegiance to the occupying power. “Since 2003, only about 15,000 of Jerusalem’s 330,000 Palestinians have applied for citizenship; Israeli authorities have approved fewer than 6,000 of them.”