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Israel Will No Longer Deport Arabs Lacking Residency Status

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Israel has postponed all outstanding deportation orders against Palestinians in the administered territories who have no residence permits or have overstayed their tourist visas.

The action followed a rebuke from the United States to Israel for imposing “difficult tests of residence.”

The new policy calls a halt to administrative deportations, Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin told the Knesset on Tuesday.

He explained that those were deportations specifically licensed by the government’s coordinator of affairs in the administered territories.

But deportations will continue to be ordered for those who take part in terrorist or intifada-related activity, or any work on behalf of the Palestine Liberation Organization.

Rabin spoke in response to a written parliamentary question from Dedi Zucker of the Citizens Rights Movement. Leftist circles in Israel have long protested the splitting of families by deportation.

In Washington, State Department spokeswoman Margaret Tutwiler made clear Tuesday that the United States has expressed “concern” to Israel over its deportation policy, “particularly with regard to divided families.”

Rabin told reporters here Wednesday that the United States and other countries practice similar policies. Visitors overstaying their tourist visas or found working illegally are required to leave the country, he said.

The PLO and the Arab states are linking the deportation issue with the mass influx of Soviet Jews into Israel. They charge that Israel is, in effect, carrying out unilateral “population transfers” by flooding the country with new immigrants while deporting indigenous Arabs.

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