Forced Population Transfer: The Case of Palestine - Working Paper No. 16 - Denial of Residency


All Palestinians are subject to Israeli rules and regulations that determine their residency status, even those who do not live under Israeli jurisdiction. Violating the basic human rights for Palestinians and their families, these rules and regulations encompass almost every aspect of Palestinian life from freedom of movement, family unification, restrictions on building, and access to services and other basic rights.

Historically, the territory of mandate Palestine was under a single jurisdiction,allowing the forging of family and communal ties across the regions of the country, as well as the Middle East. Today, these ties are disrupted or completely severed due to physical barriers, but also as a result of the effective differentiation of residency cards imposed by Israel. Legally sanctioned residential statuses established by Israel distinguish between different areas: Israel, Jerusalem, and the West Bank or the Gaza Strip. It is important to note that Palestinian residency is defined positively and negatively, with Israeli categorizations serving to determine who is excluded; namely Palestinians who live outside of these areas (Palestinian refugees).

Recent reports of human rights groups highlight the following issues that frame the contemporary landscape of residency rights for Palestinians:

• The impact of revocation (and risk of revocation) of residency permit(s).

• The rejection of applications for family unification between those in Jerusalem or Israel, and in the remainder of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Since 2000, Israel suspended at least 120,000 applications for family unification.6 As a result, many families are forced to either live apart, or live ‘illegally’ together and under constant risk of arrest.

• Child registration across the occupied Palestinian territory (including East Jerusalem). The number of unregistered children is currently unknown,but estimates place the number at around 10,000. The impact, though,remains high since children are unable to access basic services and socialbenefits.

• The precarious residency status of Palestinian citizens of Israel.