High Court Petition against Israeli Revocation of Palestinian Right to Live in Jerusalem

Monday, 11 April 2011 05:09 Tania Kepler for the Alternative Information Center (AIC)

A petition submitted to Israel’s High Court demands that Israel stop revoking the permanent residency permits of Palestinians in the city.

jerusalem

HaMoked: Center for the Defense of the Individual and the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) submitted the petition on Thursday 7 April on behalf of Palestinian residents of Jerusalem, demanding that the Ministry of Interior stop revoking permanent residency permits .

The vast majority of Palestinians in East Jerusalem are permanent residents of Israel, not citizens, and are under constant threat of losing the legal right to reside in their city. According to HaMoked, in recent years, there has been a sharp rise in revocation of residency, and 2008 set a record with 4,577 revocations. Almost 50% of the total revocation of permits since Israel’s annexation of Jerusalem in 1967 occurred between the years 2006 to 2008.

Israeli legislation revokes the residential rights of Jerusalemite Palestinians after an absence of seven years, which makes studying abroad or living in the country of a foreign spouse an incredible risk. To make matters work, even living in a place like Bethlehem, just a few kilometers from Jerusalem, is considered immigration by Israeli authorities, and cause for residency revocation.

Many Palestinians, particularly Jerusalemite women who marry West Bank residents, lose their residency status this way and though they live just a few kilometers from the city of their birth, they are not allowed to returned.


Firas Maraghy, a Jerusalem native and current Berlin resident, was on hunger strike for weeks during the summer of 2010, sitting in front of the Israeli Embassy in Berlin, petitioning for Jerusalem residency rights for his baby daughter and the right to keep his own.


Maraghy moved to Berlin in September 2007 after marrying his wife, Wiebke Diehl, who has German nationality. The couple chose to live in Germany so that Diehl could complete her studies. In December 2009 when their daughter, Zaynab Maraghy, was born, Maraghy requested that the Israeli Embassy in Berlin enter her name on his documents. His request, however, was denied, on 17 April of this year, on the grounds that her mother was German.

If Maraghy does not return to Jerusalem, he will permanently lose his residency rights, if he does return, he will be forced to abandon his daughter for at least 1½ years. Maraghy does not want to move to Germany permanently, but hopes to be able to bring his daughter and wife to Jerusalem legally, with his daughter living as a resident.

“The ongoing policy of permit revocation severely infringes on the basic human rights of tens of thousands who wish to leave Jerusalem for studies, work or marital purposes. This sharp increase indicates a deliberate policy to reduce the number of Palestinians living in the city,” states HaMoked.


“The current situation turns residents of East Jerusalem into prisoners, who are not allowed to leave their small and unfortunately neglected corner of the world, said ACRI Attorney Oded Feller.


Today, more than ever before, a person who wishes to lead a full life in the 21st century may choose to relocate to another country for extended periods of time, without severing ties to his homeland and while maintaining the option to return at any tim,” said Feller.“It was Israel’s decision to annex these territories, and the state is obligated not to treat those living there as if they were immigrants or as if their ties to the country were questionable.”

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