Concerned about getting cut off from their livelihoods in Israel, some Palestinians are leaving their West Bank homes to resettle west of Israel’s West Bank security fence, inside Israel proper.
Wednesday’s Washington Post offers a story about Palestinians moving to the French Hill neighborhood of Jerusalem (on territory annexed to Israel after its conquest of eastern Jerusalem in 1967).
In some ways, the move is a psychological one. There is no legal difference between Beit Hanina and French Hill. Both are parts of East Jerusalem that Israel occupied during the 1967 Arab-Israeli war and unilaterally annexed soon after, a status not recognized by the international community. But French Hill is a predominantly Jewish neighborhood, and Beit Hanina is overwhelmingly Arab.
"They’re talking about giving this area back to the Palestinians, and then we would be stuck here," Bashir, who holds Israeli citizenship, said of Beit Hanina. "My wife works in the Jerusalem municipality as a social worker. How would she get to her job if this area becomes Palestinian?"
Many of the 250,000 Palestinians who are residents of East Jerusalem, but who are not Israeli citizens, are equally concerned about losing access to Israeli services such as medical care and social security if their neighborhoods became part of a Palestinian state. A growing number are moving into predominantly Jewish neighborhoods such as French Hill or Pisgat Zeev — areas that Palestinian officials consider to be illegal Israeli settlements. Jamal Natshe, a Palestinian real estate agent, said thousands of families from East Jerusalem, the West Bank and even Jordan have moved into mostly Jewish areas in the past two years.
JTA’s own Dina Kraft wrote about this about a year ago, and last month she wrote about a similar phenomenon among Israeli Arabs who are moving into Jewish towns near Arab-majority cities in the Galilee, like Nazareth.