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Palestinian Residency Rights under the PA

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On January 28, 1999, BADIL's lawyer Sahar Francis met with staff of the Palestinian Civil Affairs Committee (CAC) in order to receive updated information about the current developments in regards to Palestinian residency rights in the West Bank. The situation described by the CAC confirms that very little has changed since 1997, when BADIL first published its report Exposed Realities: Palestinian Residency Rights in the “Self Rule” Areas Three Years After Partial Israeli Redeployment. The problem of some 80,000 Palestinian residents whose ID cards were confiscated by Israel prior to the Oslo Accords has remained unresolved. The joint Israeli-Palestinian committee to be established - based on the 1995 Taba Agreement - in order to set up a procedure for the re-instatement of "lost ID cards" remains in limbo, not a single meeting was conducted in 1998-99. Applications for family reunification submitted by Palestinian residents to the PA according to the standard procedure are unlikely to reach the decision-making Israeli authorities. "Wasta" (connections to influential persons) is what makes an application move ahead within the narrow parameters set by the Israeli quota. As the deadlock in the political negotiations continues, Israel continues to restrict Palestinian entry into the PA areas by denying family reunification and visit permits, a policy which - as a result of the Oslo Accords - can no longer be challenged in Israeli courts. Many of those who succeed to come, on a short-term visit permit or tourist visa, simply stay, although the PA cannot provide legal protection. This Palestinian way of "creating demographic facts on the ground", however, is not a PA policy. It is the combined result of the individual determination of a people who prefer insecurity in their homeland to the hardships of exile.

Al-Majdal Authors