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Today: Oct 23, 2017

JCSER warns of new Israeli policy to revoke residency rights of thousands of Palestinians

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Israel's Jerusalem municipality decided to halt the collection of property tax from Palestinian holders of Jerusalem ID cards, who live outside the segregation wall.

According to a resident of al-Salam neighborhood of Anata in East Jerusalem, the municipality informed him that he is no more requested to pay the Arnona tax for the current year.

He reported to the Jerusalem Center for Social and Economic Rights, JCSER, that his family has been living in the area since 30 years in al-Salam neighborhood of Anata in East Jerusalem and used to pay the taxes throughout that period. However, when he went few days ago to headquarters of the municipality to inquire about his taxes for the current year, the officials there informed him that he is no more requested to pay them without giving any further explanation.

For the Palestinian population of Jerusalem, paying the Arnona tax is pre-condition to prove that the center of their life is in Jerusalem so that they will not loose their residency rights in Jerusalem.

The "centre of life" policy was introduced in 1995. Accordingly, Palestinians with Jerusalem IDs were required to prove continuous residency in Jerusalem by submitting documents to demonstrate that they actually resided in the city for the previous seven years. To maintain their residency rights in Jerusalem, Palestinians are required to provide office of the Israeli interior ministry with the following documents: Arnona residency tax for the previous two to seven years; electricity bills for the previous two to seven years; telephone bills for the previous two to seven years; school certificates of all children to show that the school is located inside the municipal borders; and work certificates.

JCSER warns that such policy could be a beginning of an Israeli major policy to revoke the residency rights of thousands of Palestinian holders of Jerusalem ID, who are currently living outside the wall.

On January 7, 2010, Yakir Segev who is in charge of East Jerusalem Portfolio in Nir Barkat municipality announced that the segregation wall was built for demographic reasons "to remove 55,000 Arabs from Jerusalem."

Nevertheless, according to the available data at JCSER, there are around 125,000 Palestinian holders of Jerusalem ID cards currently living outside the segregation wall. The majority of those Palestinians are living in the Jerusalem neighbourhoods of al-Ram, Dahyet al-Barid, Shu'fat refugee camp, Dahyet al-Salam, Abu Dis, Izariyeh and Bir Nabala.

In some areas of Jerusalem that locates outside the wall, the municipality failed to provide its services such as the collection of garbage. Moreover, Israeli authorities established national insurance, post and interior ministry offices at Qalandya crossing to keep the residents outside the wall.

In this regard, JCSER's director warned of the serious ramifications of such policies on the economic and social rights of the Palestinian population of Jerusalem who are currently living outside the segregation wall.

He added that the past three years observed an increase in the number of Jerusalem residents who had their residency rights being revoked. he reported that in 2011, Israeli authorities revoked 191 ID cards, a fact that brings the number of total revoked ID cards to 14,466 since the beginning of occupation in 1967.

According to international law which considers Jerusalem as part of the occupied territories, Palestinian population in the city are protected civilians who are entitled to rights guaranteed by international conventions. Israel, the occupation power should avoid enacting any policy that infringes on their rights in the city.