Israel to strip residency status from Palestinians in east Jerusalem

Israeli border police check Palestinian's identification cards at a checkpoint as they exit the Arab neighborhood of Issawiyeh in east Jerusalem.

The Israeli Knesset on Wednesday approved a "loyalty" bill that gives absolute authority to the Minister of Interior to revoke residence permits from Palestinians on the ground of "breach of allegiance." Under the law, Israel can deport anyone whose residency status is withdrawn.

Hanan Ashrawi, a senior member of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), slammed the law, while describing it as "an extremely racist piece of legislation.

"By unethically stripping the residency of Palestinians from Jerusalem and depriving the rights of those Palestinians to remain in their own city, the Israeli government is acting in defiance of international law and is violating international human rights and humanitarian laws," said Ashrawi, according to a statement published by Wafa, the official Palestinian news agency, as reported by al-Jazeera.

"This is bad and dangerous legislation... Israel's decision to annex East Jerusalem contradicts international law. The residents of East Jerusalem live there not because they chose to be Israelis but because it is their home," MK Dov Boris Khenin of the Joint List party said, according to Israeli newspaper Hareetz.

The 420,000 Palestinians who currently reside in East Jerusalem possess permanent residency ID cards and are treated as foreign immigrants by the Israeli government. Israel revoked the status of at least 14,595 Palestinians from East Jerusalem from the start of Israel's occupation of East Jerusalem in 1967 to the end of 2016, according to the Interior Ministry, as reported by Human Rights Watch (HRW). Under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, the forced eviction of Palestinians from East Jerusalem "could amount to war crimes."

East Jerusalem has drawn world attention since U.S. President Donald Trump on Dec. 6 officially recognized the holy city as the capital of Israel, triggering world outcry and protests across the Palestinian territories.

Most countries around the world have not recognized Israel's 1967 annexation of East Jerusalem. Under long-standing international consensus, the fate of the city is to be determined in negotiations.

Jerusalem's status is at the core of the decades-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and Trump's Dec. 6 announcement was widely perceived as siding with Israel. It also raised fears of more bloodshed as past crises over Jerusalem have triggered violence.

Israel has considered Jerusalem its capital since the state's establishment in 1948 and sees the city as the ancient capital of the Jewish people. The Palestinians equally lay claim to Jerusalem and want the eastern part of the city as the capital of their future state.

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