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Israel's high court rules to restore residency rights of East Jerusalem Palestinian man

March 18, 2017 2:25 P.M. (Updated: March 18, 2017 9:55 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Israel’s high court ruled on Thursday to restore the residency rights of a Palestinian man born in present day occupied East Jerusalem who had lived outside of Jerusalem for over a dozen years, setting a precedent for residency rights of Palestinian Jerusalemites, who for decades have had their residencies revoked for living outside of Jerusalem.

Israeli news daily Haaretz reported that the court ruled in favor of Jerusalem-born Palestinian Akram Abd al-Haqq, 58, who was nine years old when Israel annexed East Jerusalem in 1967.

In 1970, al-Haqq moved with his parents to the United States, where he eventually became a US citizen. Nearly 20 years later, in 1989, al-Haqq attempted to return to Jerusalem, only to find out that Israel had revoked his residency, and rejected his request for a renewal.

When Israel annexed East Jerusalem, unlike Palestinians living in other areas inside Israel, Jerusalemite Palestinians were given “permanent residency” status, as opposed to full citizenship.

According to Haaretz, like al-Haqq, over 14,000 Palestinians have had their residency rights revoked in the years since 1967 because they had been absent from Jerusalem for more than seven years.

After moving twice to Jerusalem without proper documents, and years of appeals, al-Haqq was restored his residency by a three-justice panel that ruled that residents of occupied East Jerusalem "have a strong affinity to the city which must be taken into consideration with respect to residency rights,” Haaretz reported.

One of the justices wrote of the decision that "when the interior minister must examine a request to restore a permanent residency to a resident of East Jerusalem, they must consider the special circumstances of these residents – that as opposed to immigrants seeking status – they have a strong affinity to the place where they live, as people born in this area – and sometimes even their parents and grandparents were born there – and where they have enjoyed family and communal life for years."

"Under these circumstances, the appellant ought to be viewed as someone who has renewed their affinity to Israel and considering the special status of East Jerusalem residents as native born -- as opposed to those who won the right to permanent residency by license after immigration --has enough to justify his request to renew recognition in his status as a permanent resident," another justice wrote, while simultaneously noting that “each case must be judged on its own merit.”

The fate of Jerusalem has been a focal point of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for decades, with East Jerusalem Palestinian communities at the forefront of what has been denounced as a policy of "Judaization" of Jerusalem at the expense of other religious communities through settlement expansion and home demolitions.

A damning United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) report published on Wednesday concluded that Israel was guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt” of imposing apartheid policies against Palestinians, urging the international community to abide by its “legal obligation” to punish such discriminatory measures.

ESCWA also detailed some of Israel’s “demographic engineering” policies, including granting all Jews the right to obtain Israeli citizenship, while barring millions of Palestinians with documented ancestral ties to the land on which the state of Israel was established in 1948 from entering; preventing family reunification for Palestinian citizens of Israel married to Palestinians from the occupied territory; and maintaining segregated communities within Israel with wildly disparate allocation of resources.
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