Legal opinion

Revocation of Residency in East Jerusalem

Published 20. Jan 2017
Following the occupation of the Palestinian territories in 1967 and the subsequent unilateral annexation of east Jerusalem, Israel began expanding its own legal order over East Jerusalem.

As a consequence, under the 1952 Entry into Israel Law, Palestinians who were physically present and residing in East Jerusalem did not obtain Israeli citizenship, but were rather granted the status of “permanent residency”, typically granted to immigrants and bestows significantly inferior protections and entitlements than that of citizenship or nationality.

For a considerable number of persons, the Government of Israel has “revoked” this permanent residency status, and furthermore has increasingly pronounced revocations as a punitive measure, and explores plans for mass revocations as retaliatory measure.

This Legal Expert Opinion, authored by Professor Emeritus Michael Bothe, evaluates the legality of these measures. The revocation involves a change in the status which Palestinians enjoy in East Jerusalem. What does that change mean in legal terms? Is that change of status lawful or not under relevant rules of international law? It will be shown that both the revocation of the legal status as such, and its practical implications render these revocations internationally unlawful.

The Opinion is of particular relevance the current debate on the right to nationality and the fight against arbitrary deprivation of nationality. It is expressly stated that a deprivation of nationally may never lead to expulsion. The same fundamental principle is enshrined in refugee law, in particular tin the principle of non-refoulement. The international legal order does not tolerate person being put into an orbit and forced to remain there. Every person mush have a place on earth whereon to live.