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2.5.2011

"Ceased Residency": between 1967 and 1994 Israel revoked the residency of 140,000 West Bank Palestinians

In August 2010, HaMoked: Center for the Defence of the Individual applied to the coordinator of government activities in the territories under the Freedom of Information Law, concerning the "freeze" of the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) population registry. Although the Law stipulates that an authority must respond to a request within 30 days, and despite many reminders, over six months later, the military still sent no reply. HaMoked had no recourse but to file an administrative petition to the court, to instruct the military to supply the requested information.

On March 30, 2011, HaMoked received a reply from the office of the legal advisor for the West Bank.  Therein, the military addresses what it designates as "ceased residency status", assigned to Palestinian residents who left the West Bank until 1994 "and did not return, as they transferred their center of life abroad".  

Under military procedure, until 1994, a West Bank resident who wished to travel abroad, deposited his identity card at the border crossing and received an "exit card", valid for 3 years. Israel regarded any resident who did not return within the 3 year period, as having transferred his center of life abroad, and altered his status in its records to "ceased residency status ", effectively revoking his residency. With the exception of rare cases, Israel does not allow any "late returnee" to regain his OPT status.  

Using this technical procedure, Israel has revoked the residency of over 10% of the West Bank population – leaving 140,000 Palestinians without status in their homeland, solely because they left the OPT for a period of three years.  

HaMoked asserts that this is an arbitrary procedure, which contravenes international law and violates the right of protected persons to live in their homeland. HaMoked calls on Israel to reinstate OPT status to all Palestinians whose residency was revoked in this manner, and allow them and their families to return to their homes in the West Bank.
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