BADIL Resource Centre for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights is pleased to announce the release of the first two Working Papers (No. 15 and 16) in a series of 10 papers on Forced Population Transfer: The Case of Palestine.
This Series of Working Papers on forced population transfer is intended to encourage debate, and to stimulate discussion and critical comment. Together, and drawing upon desk and field-based research, these papers will identify and explore the key components of Israel’s policies and mechanisms of forced transfer of the Palestinian population. Specifically, these components are as follows:
- Denial of residency
- Installment of a permit regime
- Land confiscation and denial of use
- Discriminatory zoning and planning
- Denial of natural resources and access to services
- Denial of refugee return
- Suppression of resistance
- Non-state actions (with the implicit consent of the Israeli state)
The Introduction is the first Working Paper (No. 15). It considers the historical background of forced population transfer globally, before highlighting the contemporary provisions and mechanisms of international law which define and prohibit this practice. In addition, it charts the five major episodes of forcible displacement which have transformed the Palestinian community into the largest and longest-standing unresolved refugee case in the world today, number roughly 7.4 million people, before concluding with a summary of how the intention to displace Palestinians has manifested itself within Israeli policy and practice.
Yet, despite its urgency, the forced displacement of Palestinians rarely receives an appropriate response from the international community. While many individuals and organizations have already discussed the policies of forced population transfer, civil society lacks an overall analysis of the system of forced displacement that continues to oppress and disenfranchise Palestinians today.
As such, this paper sets the scene for a body of work which it is hoped will lend clarity to this often complex area, as well as sparking debate and critical comment amongst decision-makers, scholars, practitioners and other interested parties. Crucially, each paper will be advocacy-focused, promoting a rights-based approach to analyzing and addressing the root causes of the conflict and policies of forced population transfer in Palestine, as it is BADIL’s belief that no other approach can deliver a just and durable solution to the plight of the Palestinian people.
All Palestinians are subject to Israeli rules and regulations that determine their residency status, even those who do not live under Israeli jurisdiction. Violating the basic human rights for Palestinians and their families, these rules and regulations encompass almost every aspect of Palestinian life from freedom of movement, family unification, restrictions on building, and access to services and other basic rights.
Historically, the territory of mandate Palestine was under a single jurisdiction,allowing the forging of family and communal ties across the regions of the country, as well as the Middle East. Today, these ties are disrupted or completely severed due to physical barriers, but also as a result of the effective differentiation of residency cards imposed by Israel. Legally sanctioned residential statuses established by Israel distinguish between different areas: Israel, Jerusalem, and the West Bank or the Gaza Strip. It is important to note that Palestinian residency is defined positively and negatively, with Israeli categorizations serving to determine who is excluded; namely Palestinians who live outside of these areas (Palestinian refugees).
Recent reports of human rights groups highlight the following issues that frame the contemporary landscape of residency rights for Palestinians:
- • The impact of revocation (and risk of revocation) of residency permit(s).
- • The rejection of applications for family unification between those in Jerusalem or Israel, and in the remainder of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Since 2000, Israel suspended at least 120,000 applications for family unification.6 As a result, many families are forced to either live apart, or live ‘illegally’ together and under constant risk of arrest.
- • Child registration across the occupied Palestinian territory (including East Jerusalem). The number of unregistered children is currently unknown,but estimates place the number at around 10,000. The impact, though,remains high since children are unable to access basic services and socialbenefits.
- • The precarious residency status of Palestinian citizens of Israel.