High Court Calls on Israel to Explain Residency Policy

The High Court of Justice has given the government three months to explain its policy regarding the residency rights of Palestinians living in eastern Jerusalem.

Thursday’s move by the high court came after several hundred such Palestinians, accusing the Interior Ministry of discrimination, petitioned the court against Israel’s cancellation of their identity cards and residency status after they spent lengthy periods abroad.

The directive came after the court heard arguments from human rights groups that said the Interior Ministry had altered its policy in order to discriminate against the Palestinians. They argued that 700 Palestinian Arabs from eastern Jerusalem had had their identity cards canceled during the past year.

The state countered that there had been no policy change and that individuals who left Jerusalem for an extended time were not permanent residents of the city.

An affidavit submitted to the court by a former adviser on Arab affairs to the mayor of Jerusalem claimed that there had been a shift in policy.

“I think that, without a doubt, Palestinians who leave Jerusalem for the West Bank, Jordan or abroad for good reasons, such as lack of housing, difficulty finding employment or for studies” do not view their lives “abroad as the center of their lives,” Amir Cheshin told Israel Radio.

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