Speed Reads

Israel and Palestine

Benjamin Netanyahu mulling revoking residency status for Palestinians in East Jerusalem

In what he's calling an attempt to curb violence that erupted last month and has left 11 Israelis and 50 Palestinians dead, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is discussing revoking the residency status of Palestinians living in two East Jerusalem neighborhoods, senior Israeli officials said.

The Kafr Aqab and Shuafat refugee camp areas are behind the barrier that separates Israel from the West Bank, and they are home to at least 90,000 Palestinians. Palestinians who live in East Jerusalem and have residency permits are able to go back and forth between the West Bank and Israel, and also receive national insurance and pension benefits. In addition to possibly revoking the residency permits, Netanyahu also discussed with cabinet ministers increasing security and government controls of those neighborhoods, which currently aren't policed by Israeli security forces, officials told The Wall Street Journal. Without the permits, experts say, tens of thousands of Palestinians would be unable to travel to Israel for work. "Revoking the residency is a great bluff," political scientist Gadi Wolfsfeld told the Journal. "It's supposed to scare the local Palestinian population into behaving themselves and Netanyahu wants to assure the Israeli population it is safe and secure."

The wave of violence that has plagued Israel started because of tensions at a site that is sacred to both Muslims and Jews. Stabbing, shooting, and stoning attacks by Palestinians have killed 11 Israelis and injured more than 100, and more than 50 Palestinians have died in clashes with security forces, including at least 20 who were killed during or following an attack. A senior aide to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said the threat of revoking residency status is only fanning the flames of discontent. "Netanyahu just confirmed for the thousandth time what Palestinians in East Jerusalem already believe," said the aide, Husam Zomlot. "They are collectively targeted by a government that wants the land without its people."