Friday, August 14, 2020

Al-Shabaka’s New Report – “Decades of Displacing Palestinians: How Israel Does It”

By George Mandarin - June 26, 2013
Section: [Main News] [Life under Occupation] [Features]
Tags: [ethnic cleansing of 1948] [forced transfer] [Israeli Citizenship Law] [Oslo Accords] [permits] [refugees] [Al-Shabaka]

Young Palestinian Refugees learn Arabic in a Tent at the Zarka Camp in Jordan, 1949. Photographer Unknown.


Most discussions concerning the dispossession and displacement of Palestinians center around the 1948 Nakba and the subsequent forced exile of over 700,000 Palestinians by invading Zionist forces, set on creating a Jewish state on the land of mandate Palestine. 

However, far less attention is allocated to the subsequent and continuing measures employed by the State of Israel to further Palestinian displacement and to create and maintain a Jewish majority.
By the end of 2011, an astounding 7.4 million Palestinians, 66 % of the total Palestinian population, were living as refugees and/or internally displaced persons, according to a three year survey by the Badil Resource Center.
A recent report by the Palestinian policy network, Al-Shabaka, entitled, “Decades of Displacing Palestinians: How Israel Does It” details six major tactics used by Israel to forcefully and permanently displace Palestinians from what is known today as the occupied Palestinian territories (oPt) and Israel proper, dispersing them both internally as well as across international borders.  
“As shown in archival research conducted by the Israeli new historians,” argues the report's author, Munir Nuseibah, “senior leaders of the Zionist movement have long advocated the 'transfer’ of Palestinians in order to secure a Jewish majority in an area of land where Jews were the minority.” Nuseibah goes on to argue that such calls have long been turned into a broad legal system and set of practices that continue to this day. 
Nuseibah divides Israel’s tactics of displacement into six major categories. 
“1. The use of violence during times of war as happened during the wars of 1948, 1956 and 1967, which created one of the most complicated refugee problems in the world as well as a significant number of internally displaced persons.
“2. Engineering the personal statuses in Israel and the oPt in a way that excludes habitual residents, or persons who should be entitled to residency rights, from the right to live in their homes.
“3. Discriminatory urban and country planning that encourages Jewish expansion and suppresses Palestinian construction in certain areas such as Jerusalem, the Jordan Valley and the Negeve desert. As a result, homes and even whole villages are demolished as 'illegal constructions.’
“4. Dispossessing Palestinians of their property under discriminatory laws and regulations that result in the forced eviction of families from their places of residence.
“5. Deportations under security justifications and emergency law. This method was extensively used in the oPt at the start of the occupation and is still being used from time to time.
“6. Creating unbearable circumstances in certain areas that eventually drive the civilian population to leave their homes and move to other area. Examples of this pattern include Sheikh Sa’ad village in Jerusalem and Al-Nu’man village in the West Bank where both communities were suffocated by the construction of the Separation Wall. 
Personal Status Engineering
After the dust cleared in 1948, argues Nuseibah, Israel began to manipulate the “personal status definitions” of the infant State’s new citizens in order to transform its Jewish minority into the majority. 
Two laws—the Law of Return (1950) and the Citizenship Law (1952)—combined to selectively regulate who was eligible to receive Israeli citizenship. When coupled together, the two orders granted Jews all over the world “the status of Jewish 'nationals’ of Israel with the right to immigrate to Israel and become full citizens,” Nuseibah states, while simultaneously conceding citizenship to all Palestinians who had remained in Israel after the war. The Prevention of Infiltration Law (1954) was soon added to the legal regime, officially criminalizing “any attempted return of a refugee to his home.” 
These three legal measures effectively prevented the right of return between 1948 and 1967, and are, in fact, still in place today. 
Further measures were introduced after the 1967 war, during which around one third of the oPt population was displaced. Immediately after the fighting, Israel took a census in the oPt and then introduced a new classification of Palestinian residency which excluded anyone left out of the official survey. In a measure similar to the 1954 Prevention of Infiltration Law, Israel subsequently secured the displacement of all 1967 refugees. 
Similar policies continued. Following the 1967 census, Israel introduced three different types of residency statuses for it’s newly acquired Palestinian territories—blue for East Jerusalemites, orange for West Bankers and red for those living in the Gaza Strip. 
Each type of residency permit came along with the potential for revocation. Exit permits, for citizens of the West Bank and Gaza who traveled abroad, were given expiration dates. Any traveler who returned after the expiration date would be assigned “ceased residency” and would be denied entry, thus, effectively separated forever from his home. The policy of residency revocation was halted in the West Bank and Gaza after the beginning of the Oslo Accords in 1993. 
Residents of East Jerusalem were placed under a similar framework of exit visa expiration dates and potential residency revocation, although they were officially granted permanent residency status in 1967. The peace process, however, did nothing to protect their residency status. Actually, as Nuseibah notes, Israel has since “evolved the legal framework in a way that facilitated an accelerating rate of residency revocations” for East Jerusalemites. 
Prior to Oslo, reasons for residency revocation included: “living abroad for 7 years, receiving a residency status in a foreign country, or receiving a citizenship in that country by naturalization. Nuseibah notes that residence in the West Bank or Gaza was not grounds for “settlement outside Israel.” 
The policy was changed without any official legal amendments or public warnings. If one’s (read Palestinian resident of East Jerusalem) “center of life” was found to be outside of Israel by Israeli authorities, then he or she would be liable to have his/her residency revoked. Additionally, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip were added to list of “residence abroad,” consequently endangering the residency status of the thousands of Palestinians who had established homes in the eastern suburbs of Jerusalem. 
“According to figures provided by the Israeli Ministry of Interior, the residencies of 14,152 Palestinians had been revoked between 1967 and 2011, more than 11,000 after the beginning of the peace process. These figures greatly understate the Palestinian loss of residency rights,” argues Nuseibah, as they only include partial data for the period between 1967 and 1990. 
Child Registration Limits and Family Unification
Israeli authorities have additionally placed limits on child registrations. These restrictions not only apply to the oPt but to Palestinian residents of Israel as well. “Regarding its own citizens,” says Nuseibah, “Israel prevents the automatic granting of citizenship to children of Israeli citizens born abroad. Although this applies to Jewish and non-Jewish citizens alike, a Jewish child can always acquire his citizenship by virtue of 'return,’ whereas a non-Jewish infant does not enjoy this right.”
Child registrations limits are the most restrictive for residents of East Jerusalem. Since they are not citizens of Israel, they are barred from automatically passing their residency onto their children. 
Furthermore, since 2002, Israel has completely stopped processing family unification applications for Palestinian citizens of Israel and Jerusalem that ask to be joined by their Palestinian spouses in the West Bank or Gaza Strip, a practice which has resulted in the proliferation of thousands of undocumented spouses and children. 
For a more in-depth look into Israel’s systematic dispossession and displacement of the Palestinian people since 1948, please read Munir Nuseibah’s report here

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