New Bill to Revoke Residency Status of Jerusalem Palestinians

On January 3, 2018, a bill granting the Minister of Interior full discretion to revoke the permanent residency status of Palestinian residents living in East Jerusalem, or of residents living on the Golan Height, passed preliminary reading.

Based on the proposed bill, the Minister of Interior will be able to revoke residency rights if, “according to his opinion,” the resident is suspected of a breach of trust against the state of Israel — i.e., is suspected of being involved in terrorist activity as defined by law (see text of the proposed legislation, in Hebrew, here). The bill is being advanced by Likud MK Amir Ohana, in order to bypass a September 2017 ruling of the High Court of Justice  which denied the Minister of Interior the authority to revoke the residency of four Palestinian parliamentarians belonging to the Hamas movement.

Notably, under the draft law, the authority of the Minister of Interior would not be limited to the revoking residence only of persons convicted of terrorist activity. In the current political environment in Israel, where there is a strong trend toward criminalizing certain forms of non-violent activism and criticism of Israeli policies, this bill raises clear and immediate concerns that, if passed into law, the Ministry would very likely seek to use it more broadly to quash even non-violent Palestinian activism and protest.