As more Arab countries normalise relations with Israel, it presses on with a policy of “silent transfer” – an intricate system that targets Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem with residency revocation, displacement through house demolitions, barriers in obtaining building permits, and high taxes.
Palestinian researcher Manosur Manasra notes Israel launched this policy of transfer against Palestinians in East Jerusalem almost immediately after the 1967 war and the subsequent occupation of the eastern part of the city.
The policy continues to this day with the aim to dominate East Jerusalem.
Land expropriation for Jewish settlements has taken place around East Jerusalem and in the heart of Palestinian neighbourhoods such as the Old City’s Muslim and the Christian Quarters and beyond in Sheikh Jarrah, Silwan, Ras al-Amoud and Abu Tur since as early as 1968.
Following the June 1967 war, Israel applied Israeli law to East Jerusalem and granted Palestinians “permanent resident” status. However, in effect, it is a fragile one. B’tselem, the Israeli human rights information centre in the occupied Palestinian territories describes this status as one “accorded to foreign nationals wishing to reside in Israel”, except that Palestinians are indigenous to the land.
Palestinians of East Jerusalem do not have a right to automatic Israeli citizenship nor are issued Palestinian passports by the Palestinian Authority (PA). They are usually able to obtain temporary Jordanian and Israeli travel documents.
By allotting a fragile residency status to Palestinians in East Jerusalem, Israel has succeeded to revoke and subsequently uproot more than 14,200 Palestinians from East Jerusalem since 1967. These measures coincide with an aggressive house demolition practice.
Home demolitions in the West Bank did not stop despite the coronavirus pandemic.
According to the United Nations, there was a nearly fourfold increase in the number of people displaced from January-August 2020, and a 55 percent rise of structures targeted with demolitions or confiscations compared with a year earlier.
In East Jerusalem, 24 structures were demolished last month, half of them by their owners following the issuance of demolition orders by the Jerusalem municipality.
The “permanent residency” status is maintained as long as Palestinians keep a physical presence in the city. However, in some cases, the Israeli authorities move to withdraw the residency status of Palestinians in East Jerusalem as a retribution measure because they are political dissidents.