In 2008, the Ministry of the Interior revoked the Israeli residency status of 4,577 residents of East Jerusalem – including 99 minors: The number of cases of revocation of residency in 2008 alone is equal to approximately one half the total number of cases of residency revocation between 1967 and 2007
In April 2009, HaMoked: Center for the Defence of the Individual sent an application under the Freedom of Information Law to the Ministry of the Interior, for receipt of information about the revocation of status from residents in East Jerusalem in 2008. This application was submitted by Hamoked for the second year in a row, after being forced in the previous year, following the refusal of the Ministry of the Interior to disclose the information, to petition the court on the matter. More than six months after the application was sent to the Ministry of the Interior, and after no less than six reminders were sent to the Population Authority, the Ministry of the Interior deigned to send the information to HaMoked. These figures clearly indicate a considerable broadening of the application of the residency revocation policy exercised by Israel in East Jerusalem since its occupation.
This policy and Israel’s efforts to “encourage” residents of East Jerusalem who have lived there for many generations to uproot themselves and move elsewhere are reprehensible. The annexation of East Jerusalem to Israel has rendered the residents of the annexed area permanent residents of Israel. Therefore, HaMoked asserts, with respect to the tests set forth by the law regarding expiry of residency, a distinction should be drawn between immigrants who have entered Israel voluntarily and acquired permits for permanent residence therein by virtue of their request under the Law of Entry into Israel, and those who have been rendered residents with permanent status by virtue of the annexation of their place of residence to Israel. The latter status must include, inherently, a condition whereby the residence permits do not expire.
According to the Bureau’s data provided to HaMoked in the context of the current application, most of the residency revocations in 2008 were obtained through Ministry-initiated action taken between March and April 2008. According to the data, most of the people whose residence was revoked have been living in other countries for more than seven consecutive years. A few dozen moved to the occupied territories while the West Bank and Gaza Strip are considered "abroad" for purposes of status revocation. This information proves that in its battle to preserve the “demographic balance” in the city, the Ministry of the Interior will stop at nothing to achieve its goals. Another disturbing fact that emerges from the figures is that the total number of residency revocations in East Jerusalem in 2008 is equal to more than 50% of the total residency revocations performed by the Ministry of the Interior in East Jerusalem over the first 40 years of occupation: from the beginning of the occupation in 1967 until 2007, the Ministry of the Interior revoked the status of more than 8,500 residents of East Jerusalem.
It is important to emphasize that the revocation of residency status is not automatic, since the administrative authority has discretion in the matter. And yet, information provided to HaMoked clearly illustrates that the Ministry preferred not to exercise discretion. Most of the revocations were performed, almost spitefully, during a “campaign” which the Ministry initiated, during which the Ministry actively sought out Palestinians who had lived outside of Israel for more than seven years and revoked their residency under the revocation parameters set forth in the law.
To view the Ministry of the Interior’s answer to the request for information of 5 November 2009
To view one of HaMoked’s letters of reminder to the request for information of 20 October 2009 (Hebrew)
To view HaMoked’s request for information of 22 April 2009 (Hebrew)
To view HaMoked’s petition of 12 June 2008 (Hebrew)
To view further information regarding residency revocation in East Jerusalem (Hebrew)