RAMALLAH, May 11 (JMCC) - A document obtained by
the Israeli newspaper Haaretz
describes a 30-year Israeli policy that stripped 140,000 Palestinians of their residency status.
From the time that Israel occupied the West Bank and Gaza Strip
in 1967 until the implementation of peace agreements in 1994, Palestinians seeking to leave the West Bank were told to leave their identity documents at the border crossing with Jordan.
Israel's military authorities have now admitted that those who failed to return within an allotted six months were stripped of their documents, thereby losing the right to live and work in the West Bank.
Meanwhile, Maj. Gen. (res. ) Danny Rothschild, who served as coordinator of government activities in the territories from 1991 to 1995, said he was completely unaware of the procedure, even though it was in use during his term. If even I wasn't told of the procedure, one may infer that neither were residents of the occupied territories, he said.
The Central Bureau of Statistics says the West Bank's Palestinian population amounted to 1.05 million in 1994, which means the population would have been greater by about 14 percent if it weren't for the procedure.
By contrast, Palestinians who immigrated from the West Bank after the Palestinian Authority was set up retained residency rights even if they did not return for years.
Today, a similar procedure is still in place for residents of East Jerusalem who hold Israeli ID cards; they lose their right to return if they have been abroad for seven years.