Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s plan to revoke the residency rights of Palestinians living in Jerusalem will affect more than 230,000 people, local media reports.
The Israeli leader first voiced the controversial suggestion in November, following the fresh wave of Israeli-Palestinian violence that broke out a few months ago. Back then, he threatened to strip the resident status of inhabitants of the Palestinian neighborhoods that lie within Jerusalem's municipal borders but are beyond the barrier separating the city.
However, as the pro-Likud Hebrew Channel 2 has recently reported, the initiative is not limited to the Palestinians living outside of the separation wall. It will also affect thousands of people living within the city.
Experts believe that if the government actually moves forward with this plan, it will dramatically change the city’s demographic balance in favor of Jews — which seems to be the ultimate goal.
“According to the plan prepared by former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Jerusalem will be a Jewish-majority city of 88 percent and an Arab-minority of 12 percent by 2020,” explained Kahil Tufakji, a Palestinian settlement affairs expert.
Some 350,000 Palestinians from East Jerusalem possess ID cards that allow them to work and move freely around the city. Residents both inside and outside the wall use these cards.
Tufakji also highlighted that Arabs inhabiting neighborhoods like Jabel Mukaber, al-Issawiya, at-Tur and Beit Hanina may also lose their residency rights if the restrictions are actually implemented.
About 195,000 Palestinians live within the barrier elected by Israeli state in 2003, while some 145,000 live outside of it, according to the official figures.
Needless to say, if the plan is brought into action, it would wreak havoc among the Palestinians. It will not only restrict them from entering Israel for work or education, but will also revoke their medical insurance and social security benefits.
As a local Palestinian community representative put it, the people will be “turned into criminals” on their own soil. This might also provoke further violence in the country where arson, stabbings and aggressive protests are already spiking.