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Most Palestinian Jerusalemites have a legal status that is unique in the world: Although they are indigenous, they are stateless. This situation creates a precarity that infuses every aspect of life and leaves the community perpetually afraid that their fragile residency status will be summarily revoked. Here we explore this untenable reality.

The Story in Numbers

349,570

Palestinians in Jerusalem (registered with legal status) [1]

20,000

Approximate number of Palestinian Jerusalemites who hold Israeli citizenship [2]

329,570

Estimated number of Palestinian Jerusalemites who have Israeli permanent-resident status, an inferior, conditional, and geographically restricted status that is revocable if residents cannot continuously prove that Jerusalem is their “center of life” at any point the authorities demand such proof [3]

14,701

Number of Palestinian Jerusalemites whose residency status was revoked by Israel from 1967 to 2020 [4]

5.3

Average number of Palestinians living in a single household in Jerusalem in 2018 [5]

77,913

Very rough estimate of the number of persons affected by the residency revocations over time; since the revocation of an individual’s residency also extends to his or her dependents. [5] Others have estimated this number to be significantly higher (86,000 in 2015, at which point the number of revocations was 14,565). [6]

Notes

1. See Community Profile. Note that this is the official Israeli statistic, which reflects only persons who are registered in the Israeli Population Registry. The number of unregistered is unknown, but it is believed to be significant. There are also Palestinians holding permanent-resident IDs living outside the municipal boundaries, but Israel does not count these in its statistics.

2. The story behind this number is too complex for a note. See Citizenship.

3. Harrison Jacobs, “I Took the Excruciating 10-mile Journey through Israel’s Most Notorious Military Checkpoint That Adds Hours to the Daily Commute for 26,000 Palestinians,” Business Insider, August 7, 2018.

4. See Precarious Status.

5. Calculation made by multiplying the known number of individual revocations over the years by the average household size for Palestinians in Jerusalem in 2018. Michal Korach and Maya Chosen, eds., Jerusalem Facts and Trends 2020 at a Glimpse (Jerusalem: The Jerusalem Institute for Policy Research, 2020). Clearly this is only a rough estimate given that the average household size would have changed over the years since 1967. The key takeaway here is that the revocation of a single individual’s residency also affects the status of all of his dependent children (see Precarious Status).

6. Tamara Tawfiq Tamimi, “Revocation of Residency of Palestinians in Jerusalem: Prospects for Accountability,” Jerusalem Quarterly 72 (2017): 37–47.

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