As a result of the 1948 war between Arabs and Jews, and especially
because of the attacks launched by armed Jewish groups on Arab
neighborhoods in the western part of Jerusalem (e.g., Talbiyeh,
Baka'a and Katamon), as well as on neighboring villages, like Deir
Yassin, most, if not all, of the Palestinians living there were
forced to leave their houses and flee to the eastern part of
Jerusalem and to other neighboring Palestinian towns and villages.
By spring of 1949, following the signing of the armistice agreement
between Israel and Jordan, Jerusalem was divided into two sectors:
West Jerusalem under Israeli control and East Jerusalem under
Jordanian control. The Palestinians who had left West Jerusalem and
had become refugees were subsequently declared by the Israeli
authorities as "absentees" according to the Absentees' Property Law
of 5710-1950.1 Consequently, all property owned by these
Palestinians was transferred to the Custodian of Absentees'
Property and from the latter to the Development Authority2 which,
through Amidar - a company which housed new immigrants - designated
it for new Jewish immigrants only. Palestinians who had lived in
West Jerusalem prior to 1948 and left it during the war, became
refugees and "absentees" regarding their property in the said part
of the city.
1948-1967: Citizens of Jordan
On December 13, 1949, King Abdullah of Jordan passed a law amending
the Law of Nationality of 1928. Accordingly, Jordanian citizenship
was granted to all persons who were holding Palestinian citizenship
and were habitually residing in Transjordan or in the "western area
that [was] administered by the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan" (i.e.,
Jerusalem and the West Bank ¬U.H.).3 On April 11, 1950,
parliamentary elections took place in Jordan, covering both the
East Bank and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. Following
these elections, the Jordanian House of Commons approved the
amended law and parliament's decision concerning the "unification
of the two Banks."4 Thus, Palestinians who were living in East
Jerusalem and the West Bank became Jordanian citizens.
Since 1967: Citizens of Jordan and Residents of Israel
On June 7, 1967, the Israeli army completed its occupation of East
Jerusalem. Ignoring the United Nations and the international
community, and in violation of international law, the Israeli
government, in a unilateral move, annexed occupied East Jerusalem
on June 25, 1967. Seeking a legal cover for this action, the
government submitted to the Knesset (Israeli parliament) on June 26
three bills concerning Jerusalem, extending Israeli law to any area
of "Eretz Israel" designated by the government; enlarging by
proclamation the area of a particular municipality; and protecting
the holy places.
Following the enactment of the said laws, the Israeli government
applied on June 28, 1967, the law, jurisdiction and administration
of the State of Israel to an area of 72,000 dunums, stretching from
the village of Sur Baher in the south to Qalandia Airport in the
north. On the same date, the minister of interior issued a
proclamation enlarging the area of jurisdiction of the West
Jerusalem Municipality accordingly. Finally, on June 29, 1967, in
response to the repeated requests of Teddy Kollek, former mayor of
Jerusalem, the military commander of Jerusalem ordered the
dissolution of the Arab municipality.5
Thus, according to Israeli law, without using the word
"annexation," East Jerusalem became part of Israel. The Arab
inhabitants of the city, however, were not granted Israeli
citizenship. Instead, Israel allowed them to continue holding
Jordanian passports and, following a population census on June 26,
1967, they were given Israeli identity cards (IDs) which indicated
their status as "residents" of Israel rather than full
The Legal Implications of Being Israeli Residents
As permanent residents of Israel, Palestinian Jerusalemites were
subjected to Israeli laws which had become applicable and relevant
to all fields of their life. Palestinians of East Jerusalem were
given some rights; in return, they had to bear almost all duties
imposed by the different Israeli laws. They became, for example,
eligible for national insurance allowances (for children, the
elderly, disabilities, etc.) and they were given the right to vote
in municipal, but not national, elections. On the other hand,
Palestinians in East Jerusalem had to pay taxes to both the Israeli
government and the Jerusalem Municipality. In addition, all
businesses, companies and merchants that had been functioning prior
to the occupation and annexation of the city, were forced to
register with the Israeli Companies Registrar and/ or obtain
Israeli business licenses. To travel abroad and to be able to
re-enter Jerusalem, Palestinians had to obtain a "laissez-passer"
(travel document) to leave through Ben-Gurion Airport and an
Israeli "exit permit" to cross the Allenby Bridge into Jordan.
Additionally, the right of East Jerusalem Palestinians to build
houses on their own private lands came under the control of the
discriminatory policy of the Israeli construction and planning
Those authorities have obstructed planning and construction in the
Arab neighborhoods for many years, while, at the same time, they
have been implementing plans for new Jewish settlements and
constructing thousands of housing units for Jews in the eastern
part of the city. Out of a total number of 9,070 housing units
built between 1990 and 1993, only 463 units (5.1%) were built in
Arab neighborhoods.6 Private building of houses was limited as well
because many areas remained unplanned, preventing Palestinians
living there from obtaining building permits. Additionally, in some
planned Arab areas, 25% of the land was designated as "green areas"
(open public spaces) where building was forbidden? When one adds to
the above the fact that, since 1967, more than 4,000 dunums of
Palestinian land in East Jerusalem have been confiscated, and on
which 35,000 housing units were built for Jews only,8 the
aggravation of the housing crisis among Palestinians of East
Jerusalem, which drove many of them to live outside the municipal
boundaries of the city, becomes easier to understand.
Confiscation of IDs and Revocation of Jerusalem Residency
In the Mubarak Awad case9, the Supreme Court of Israel, sitting as
the High Court of Justice, ruled, inter alia, that Israeli laws and
administration apply to the "eastern part of Jerusalem" and, thus,
the eligibility for the right of residence of Palestinian
Jerusalemites and the loss of this right has to be decided in
accordance with the Entry into Israel Law of 195210 and with the
Entry into Israel Regulations of 1974 issued in accordance with the
said law. The court rejected the argument that Palestinian
Jerusalemites (who, it should be noted, did not enter into Israel,
but rather Israel "entered" into their hometown - ed. emphasis),
have a special status which provides them with a "quasi
citizenship" or "constitutional residency" that cannot be revoked
by the minister of interior.11 The Court added that inhabitants of
East Jerusalem who have not received Israeli citizenship by
naturalization, reside in Israel (i.e., East Jerusalem) according
to a residence permit and that every person who was included in the
Population Census of June 1967, is considered to have been in
possession of a permanent residence permit since then.12 According
to Article 11A of the Entry into Israel Regulations, a permanent
resident of East Jerusalem will be considered to have changed
his/her domicile and to reside in another country, and, thus, will
lose his/her right of permanent residency if he/she has stayed
outside Israel for at least seven years; has obtained a permanent
residence permit in another country; or has obtained citizenship of
another country by naturalization.
Given the fact that Dr. Mubarak Awad resided outside Jerusalem (his
hometown) for more than 10 years, settled in the USA, married an
American and obtained American citizenship before he returned to
Jerusalem and petitioned the Israeli Supreme Court, the court ruled
that he had lost his right of permanent residency in Israel (i.e.,
in East Jerusalem) and, thus, the Israeli minister of interior
could expel him from the country. 13
In the Fathiya Shiqaqi case,14 the Israeli High Court of Justice,
on June 6, 1995, expanded its ruling on the Mubarak Awad case by
deciding that a Palestinian Jerusalemite loses his/her right of
residency even if none of the above-mentioned three categories of
Article 11A of the Entry into Israel Regulations applied to the
person. The Court said: "The fact of residing in a state out of
Israel could also be determined by other facts that are not
mentioned (emphasis - U.H.) in regulation 11A of the said
regulations. The appearance of a new reality, replacing the reality
of permanent residency in Israel, might be clearly indicated by
circumstances other than those mentioned in regulation 11A of the
said regulations."15 The court disregarded the fact that the
petitioner left Israel on a valid "exit permit" and entered Israel
on a valid "entry permit," and decided that she had lost her right
of residence because she stayed out of Israel for six years, and
gave birth to three children while in Syria with her husband, who
had been deported some years earlier.
Until 1994, the confiscation of Israeli IDs and revocation of the
"Jerusalem resident" status was applied from time to time, but
mainly against Palestinian Jerusalemites who had lived in another
country (other than Jordan) for a long time and who, usually, had
obtained a passport of that country. The Israeli Ministry of
Interior has changed its policy and, at present, this measure is
being intensively used against any Palestinian Jerusalemite whose
"center of life is not in Israel." This includes Jerusalemites who
have moved to Jordan for work purposes or family reasons (a
Jerusalemite wife married to a Jordanian), even if they left
Jerusalem and came back to it legally and within the time limit set
forth in the "exit permit" provided by the Ministry of Interior
The new policy is applied also to Jerusalemites who live outside
the municipal boundaries of Jerusalem, especially women married to
non¬resident husbands living in Ramallah and other neighboring
Palestinian towns and villages, such as A-Ram, Al-Ezariyyah, etc.17
According to Shlomo Matania, who served as acting director of the
Population Registry Office in East Jerusalem, the basis of this new
policy is directives issued by the legal adviser of the Ministry of
Interior to cancel the resident status of those who are registered
but for whom the "center of life" is not in the city.18 Finally, in
a letter of September 19, 1996, the Ministry of Interior, through
the Registration and Passport Department, expressed its position
that any Jerusalemite who lives in the "territories" (the West
Bank) for more than seven years ceases to be an Israeli
It should be noted that, in the past, the Israeli authorities
lacked accurate data regarding the number of Jerusalemites living
outside the Jerusalem municipal boundaries, especially in the West
Bank. Now, following the Palestinian elections of January 20, 1996,
this data seems to be available. The names of Palestinians who
participated in the elections, including East Jerusalemites
residing outside the municipal boundaries, appeared in lists which
were submitted to the Israelis and approved by them prior to the
elections. Those lists may have been used by the Israeli Ministry
of Interior to determine who is still an Israeli resident and who
is not. This assumption seems reasonable in light of the Israeli
practices in East Jerusalem since the Declaration of Principles
(DOP) was signed in September 1993. These practices have included,
in addition to the confiscation of IDs, an ongoing closure banning
Palestinians of the West Bank and Gaza from entering the city, the
confiscation of Palestinian land, the planning of new bypass roads
(e.g., the Ring Road)20 and new Jewish settlements (e.g., Jabal Abu
Ghneim - Har Homa)21 and the demolition orders issued by the
Jerusalem Municipality against Palestinian houses built without
licenses.22 The aim of these practices has been to strengthen the
Jewish community and its presence in the city and to weaken the
Palestinian community and its claim of sovereignty over East
The situation of Palestinians in East Jerusalem will not be
determined until the permanent status of the city is agreed upon
during the final-status negotiations between Israelis and
Palestinians (which were supposed to have started on May 4, 1996).
To avoid a situation whereby the only question on the agenda of the
final-status negotiations concerning Jerusalem might be the
"limited minority rights of Palestinian neighborhoods in united
Jerusalem," the Palestinian Authority, as well as NGOs (local and
international) and the international community have to demand a
freeze on Israeli building and settlement activity in East
Jerusalem and the maintenance of the status quo regarding the
residency status of Palestinian Jerusalemites residing outside the
municipal boundaries of Jerusalem, until a permanent solution to
the question of Jerusalem is reached. In the DOP, each side
recognized the "legitimate rights" of the other. Both sides have to
agree to keep the city open and undivided under shared sovereignty.
It is hoped that, in the near future, Jerusalem will be a capital
of peace where everyone can choose one's place of residence,
without fear of losing any of one's rights.
1. Published in Sefer Ha-Hukkim (Book of Laws), No. 37, 2 Nissan,
5710 (March 14, 1950), p. 86.
2. Established by the Development Authority (Transfer of Property),
Law of 5710-1950.
3. See Law Additional to the Law of Citizenship, No. 56 of 1949,
published in the Jordanian Official Gazette of December 20, 1949,
No. 1004, p. 422.
4. See Proclamation published in the Official Gazette of October
11, 1950, No. 1037, p. 574. The Jordanian Law of Citizenship of
1928, as amended by the law of 1949, was replaced on February 16,
1954, with the Jordanian Citizenship Law, No.6 of 1954.
5. Usama Halabi, The Jerusalem Arab Municipality (Arabic),
Jerusalem: PASSIA, 1993, p. 28.
6. B'Tselem (The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the
Occupied Territories), "A Policy of Discrimination - Land
Expropriation, Planning and Building in East Jerusalem," May
7. Sarah Kaminker, "Planning and Housing Issues in East Jerusalem;'
a report prepared for the Society of St. Yves, in response to High
Court Petition 1091/94, June 1994.
8. Ha'aretz newspaper, May 2, 1995.
9. H.C. 282/88 Mubarak Awad vs. Prime Minister of Israel et. al. 42
Supreme Court Decisions, at 224.
10. Published in Sefer Ha-Hukkim, No. 11, 15 EluJ, 5712 (September
5, 1952), p. 354.
11. Mubarak Awad, supra note 12, at 430.
12. Ibid., at 431.
13. Ibid., at 433.
14. H.c. 7023/94 Fathiya Shiqaqi vs. Minister of Interior
15. Supra note 17, at 3.
16. See H.C. 7952/96 Fares Bustani vs. Minister of Interior et al.
(unpublished). In its decision issued in December 1996, the Court
said the petitioner is living with his wife and children (all
holding Israeli IDs) in Amman, has been working there for three
years and, thus, his center of life is in Jordan. The Court added
that summer (even yearly) visits of the petitioner to Jerusalem do
not change the fact that his center of life is not in Israel, Le.,
17. See "The Trap Is Closing on Palestinian Jerusalemites;'
Memorandum No.1 /96, Alternative Information Center, Jerusalem,
18. See "Action Alert" Issued by the Alternative Information
Center, Jerusalem, March 30, 1996.
19. The letter was sent to advocate Lea Tsemel and the writer has a
copy in his files.
20. A 14-km-long road which will connect the Jerusalem-Bethlehem
road in the south with the settlement of Pisgat Ze'ev in the
21. A new Jewish settlement of 65,000 housing units, to be built in
what is known as Jabal Abu Ghneim, southeast of the Palestinian
village of Sur Baher.
22. In 1995, at least 74 administrative demolition orders were
issued against Palestinian houses.