The fact that the Interior Ministry hurried to solve three of the four cases presented in a report issued by the AIC in June 1992 (“The Denial of Residency to Spouses of Non-Jewish Citizens of Israel”) shows that publicity can be efficient. One case - the case of “Ali and Leila Al-Arabi” has remained unresolved. The Human Rights Association/Nazareth - the couple’s legal representative - reports about new developments in the case. The couple decided to fight for their issue publicly and asks for your support.
Despite the intensive efforts of Israeli and Palestinian human rights organizations to uncover the precise meaning of this statement, it has remained a mystery until now. What might, on the one hand, be a positive measure that will remove the hardships of frequent separation for thousands of Palestinian families could, on the other hand, turn out to be nothing more than Israeli propaganda aimed at getting the Palestinian delegation back to the negotiating table. Time will show which of these two suppositions is accurate ...
The annexation of East Jerusalem in 1967 resulted in a different legal status of the Palestinian residents of the city which distinguishes them from their co-patriots living in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. They are considered permanent residents of Israel, they hold blue ID cards, and the authority responsible for them is the Ministry of Interior. They are, however, not Israeli citizens. Since 1967, Israeli policy has aimed to prevent Palestinian migration from the Occupied Territories to the city and to encourage the resident Palestinian population to leave the city limits. This policy is based on a variety of laws regarding purchase and registration of land and property, and town planning schemes which obviously discriminate against the Palestinian population. Laws and regulations regarding population registration have been part and parcel of the Israeli effort to change the demographic composition of the city; they have helped to limit the proportion of Palestinians residing in “unified” Jerusalem to the corresponding figure that was recorded in the 1967 census. Thus, at present the approximately 150,000 Palestinian Jerusalemites are confronted with an almost equal number of Israeli settlers who have come to live in East Jerusalem.
Although major changes in Israeli residency policy may be pending, the November `92 Agreement still is the predominant quasi-legal framework for dealing with residency issues in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip. Findings based on field work show that the Agreement is being carried out with neither good faith nor good will, especially with regard to the Gaza Strip, and that compliance is best in locations where there have been a large number of cases and pressure by concerned human rights institutions.
In August 1993, the Israeli State Legal Attorney issued new guidelines for its future policy regarding family reunification.
According to this new policy:
1. Non-resident spouses and minor children of Palestinian residents of the West Bank and Gaza Strip who entered the region no later than August 31, 1992 will be granted family reunification, after their cases are cleared by the Israeli intelligence. Thus approximately 6,000 persons (official estimate) who have been living in the country on six months renewable visit permits will receive the status of permanent residents.