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Revocation of Residency Rights

In the OPT – Since 1967, Israel has retained exclusive control over the movement of persons to and from the OPT and the granting of resident status there. Neither the Oslo peace process of the 1990s nor the 2005 unilateral pull out of Israel’s army from the Gaza Strip have resulted in a transfer of relevant powers to the Palestinian Authority.Between 1967 and 1994, Israel treated Palestinians in the OPT as “resident aliens” whose status in their country was revoked if they stayed abroad for longer periods and failed to renew their Israeli re-entry visa.

In occupied and annexed eastern Jerusalem, revocation of residency rights was pursued in accordance with the express policy of limiting the ratio of Palestinians to no more than 28 percent of the city's population.i By 1991, Israel had revoked the residency rights of more than 100,000 Palestinians by administrative decision.ii

Palestinian inhabitants of the OPT were finally granted protected resident status based on a 1995 interim agreement between Israel and the PLO, but occupied and annexed eastern Jerusalem was excluded from the interim agreements of the Oslo peace process. Israel's interior ministry rather instigated a new “center of life” policy whereby residency status was revoked from approximately 3096 Palestinian Jerusalemites and their dependents between 1995 and 1999 on the grounds that they were living outside the municipal boundaries.iii Israeli authorities subsequently scaled down this policy but resumed large scale revocations (4577) in 2008.iv

Since 1967, Israel has systematically violated the rights of the Palestinian family in the OPT. Hundreds of thousands have been denied unification with non-resident spouses and children by Israel’s military government. Many eventually leave the country in order to avoid separation. In 2000 Israel suspended all procedures for visitor’s permits and family unification, impacting approximately 120,000 Palestinian residents of the OPT married to foreign born spouses, most of whom are Palestinian refugees born and raised outside Israel or the OPT.v

In 2007, Israel instituted a policy of defining as “illegal aliens” all Palestinians from the Gaza Strip who were present in the West Bank without a Israel refuses to transfer the registered address of a Palestinian from Gaza to the West Bank, even if s/he has lived in the West Bank for years.vii

In Israel – Unlike Jewish citizens and immigrants,Palestinian citizens must obtain family unification for foreign spouses and children in order to legally reside in Israel with their families.viii The Minister of Interior can issue decisions without explanation, and the burden of proof that a decision is discriminatory or unreasonable lies with the applicant during appeal. Since 2003, Israel’s parliament has regularly extended the discriminatory Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law (2003). This law severely restricts family unification in Israel for Palestinian citizens and their Palestinian spouses and children from the OPT, causing the separation and forced relocation of such families.ix

In 2008, the Knesset approved the Citizenship Law (Amendment No. 9) (Authority for Revoking Citizenship) which allows citizenship to be revoked on the grounds of breach of trust vis-à-vis the state.x Proceedings have been launched to revoke the citizenship of several Palestinian citizens of the state based upon security pretexts, including some elected parliamentarians.xi
i Benvenisti, Meron City of Stone: The Hidden History of Jerusalem, University of California Press (1996) p. 50. See also Cheshin, Amir; Hutman, Bill; Melamed Avi; Separate and Unequal: The Inside Story of Israeli Rule in East Jerusalem Harvard University Press, Cambridge 1999.
ii Quigley, John, “Family Reunion and the Right to Return to Occupied Territory,” Georgetown Immigration Law Journal,6 (1992). Israel could do so, because it is in control of the population registry; only those Palestinians (and their offspring) registered in Israel’s September 1967 census are registered as legal residents of the OPT. See also: Families Torn Apart, Separation of Palestinian Families in the Occupied Territory. Jerusalem: B’Tselem, 1999, p. 17.
iii See Statistics on Revocation and Residency Rights, B'Tselem: visited 12 October, 2009.
ivBADIL Resource Center, Eviction from Jerusalem, Restitution and the Protection of Palestinian Rights, 1999, p. 19. Also: B'Tselem and HaMoked, The Quiet Deportation Continues: Revocation of Residency and Denial of Social Rights to East Jerusalem Palestinians, September 1998. Between 2002 and 2006, 561 cases of revocation of Jerusalem resident status were reported affecting some 2,800 persons. Shahar, Ilan, “You win some residents, you loose some residents”, Haaretz, 2 April, 2007. It further revoked 289 Jerusalem IDs in 2007 (B'Tselem Statistics on Revocation and Residency Rights.) Nir Hasson, "Israel Stripped thousands of Jerusalem Arabs of Residency in 2008", Haaretz 2 December 2009.
v"Right to family life denied: Foreign spouses of Palestinians barred" Amnesty International 21 March, 2007, MDE 15/018/2007
vi The permit must be obtained from the military and is valid for three months only. Permits are conditioned upon the applicant proving that s/he has been present in the West Bank for the past eight years continuously; is married with children; has security and police clearance; and must have "humanitarian" grounds for needing the permit. Even if an applicant meets all the above mentioned conditions, the military may still refuse the application. See "Separated Entities - Israel Divides Palestinian Population of West Bank and Gaza Strip" Hamoked and B'Tselem, September 2009.
vii "Gaza After the Pullout/ State's Refusal to Register Address Changes Sentences Many to Exile" Amira Hass, Haaretz, 9 October, 2005.
viii See the 1952 laws on citizenship and entry into Israel. Jewish citizens and immigrants are entitled to unite in Israel with their spouses, children and grandchildren under the Law of Return (1952).
ix See Adalah reports on "Ban on Family Unification" at:
x"Breach of trust" is defined very broadly and includes the act of residing in one of nine Arab and Muslim states or Gaza. The law allows for the revocation of citizenship for breach of trust without requiring a criminal conviction for this action. The law also allows for a discussion of a request to revoke citizenship in the absence of the citizen who is the subject of this revocation request as well as allowing for the use of secret evidence in proceedings. "New Anti-Arab Legislation" Haneen Na'amnih, Adalah's Newsletter, Volume 50, July 2008
xi "Israel begins revoking citizenship of four Arabs" Haaretz 6 May, 2009. Also see "Arab MKs slam Yishai for seeking power to cancel citizenship," Jerusalem Post 6 June, 2009.

Last modified on Thursday, 03 June 2010 10:13