Palestinians in Jerusalem denied identity cards
Palestine-Israel, Politics, 2/27/1998
Israel has denied thousands of Palestinians living in East Jerusalem their right to receive proper identification cards though they have reached the age of 16, said Palestinian Legislative Council member Ziyad Abu Zayyad.
Zayyad said the Israeli move, which contradicts all international conventions, is aimed at minimizing the number of Palestinian Arabs in the city. "The move is not only a contradiction to international laws but is also a blatant violation to the Israeli law itself," he said noting that the interim Oslo Accords between the PLO and Israel have explicitly ruled the inadmissibility of unilateral measures in the city of Jerusalem until after this question is discussed in the final status talks between the two sides.
A latest census conducted the Palestinian government Central Bureau of Statistics showed that the Palestinian population in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and East Jerusalem amounts to 2,890,630. According to data published Thursday, the population of the West Bank amounts to 1.65 million, while those living in the Gaza Strip amount to 1.02 million. Those who live in East Jerusalem, the data showed, number 210,000 in East Jerusalem, while another 325,000 Palestinians who have rights to be Jerusalem residents spent over a year abroad.
Palestinians argue that from the start of the military occupation in 1967, Israel wanted to rid the city of Jerusalem of its Arab majority in order to increase the Jewish presence and achieve a demographic change that would serve its political ambitions in the city. Therefore, they believe, a cluster of Arab villages that were originally part of Jerusalem governorate under the Jordanian rule before 1967 were excluded from the city's boundaries by the Israeli authorities, which at the same time included vast areas of vacant lands surrounding the city to its borders with the objective of building a belt of Jewish settlements around the city.
After the Oslo Accords were signed between the PLO and Israel in 1993, Israel introduced new regulations by which Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem who live out of the municipal boundaries of the city were declared ineligible to continue and hold Israeli identity cards which confirm that they are residents of the city. The move had caused a major outcry among Palestinians who complained that Israel was trying to minimize the Palestinian Arab population in the city prior to any talks on the final status talks in order to preempt any deal which would guarantee the rights of the Palestinians in the city.
Abu Zayyad noted that both Palestine and Israel should decide which part of Jerusalem is subject to final status negotiations because "the picture today is very out of clear." If Israel, he said, wants to negotiate about the so-called Greater Jerusalem, then there are close to 400,000 Palestinian Arabs living there but if Israel is only referring to parts of East Jerusalem surrounding the Old City, then the population there is no more than 210,000 as found by the census. "But either ways, Israel has to acknowledge the Palestinian rights in the city and should as such refrain from any unilateral move that would unbalance the demographic scale in the city.
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