Saturday, July 05, 2008

Kicking Out East Jerusalemites

Ann El-Khoury of People's Geography referred me to a blog post in The Magnes Zionist about a policy I did not know existed. For Palestinians from East Jerusalem, who as Jerusalemites have Israeli residency permits but not citizenship, moving abroad, even temporarily, makes them lose their residency permits, and so they cannot go back to their families in East Jerusalem. I assume Palestinians in the rest of the occupied territories also lose the right to live in the territories if they move abroad.

While I oppose the right of return, this is not the issue. This isn't about refugees from 1948 returning to Israel and flooding the country. It is about Palestinians in the territories arbitrarily being barred from returning to where they actually still live. This is a disgrace and should stop immediately. The Magnes Zionist calls this ethnic cleansing. I'd say it is a semi-passive form of ethnic cleansing; passive because Israel isn't actively yanking people from their homes in East Jerusalem and kicking them out, but only semi-passive, because it is, after all, actively cancelling their residency permits when they leave.

It would be one thing to deny residency from people active in terrorist activity against Israel. This is something else completely. The Palestinians of East Jerusalem aren't residents like other people who have residency status. They aren't foreign workers. They've been there since before Israel captured the area. They deserve to have irrevocable residency status, unless convicted of terrorism. The Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, too, should not be denied re-entry into the territories only because they move abroad temporarily or marry a foreigner.

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