Netanyahu mulls revoking rights for some Palestinians in East Jerusalem

Israeli prime minister's remarks came as unrest continued throughout the West Bank

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has raised the possibility of revoking resident status and travel rights of some Palestinians living in East Jerusalem in response to ongoing unrest in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories, an Israeli government official said Monday.

Such a move did not appear to be imminent or even politically feasible but its mere mention ran counter to a decades-old Israeli assertion that Jerusalem is an undivided city where Israeli Jews and Palestinians, both Muslim and Christian, enjoy equal rights.

Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the executive committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), said the step, if adopted, would deprive Palestinians in Jerusalem of the most basic rights and services and provoke confrontations.

"This alarming escalation, an inhuman and illegal measure, must be stopped immediately," Ashrawi said in a statement.

Israel views the entire city, including East Jerusalem, which was captured along with the West Bank in 1967, as its undivided capital. Unlike their brethren in the occupied West Bank, Palestinians in East Jerusalem receive Israeli social benefits and can move freely in Israel. They cannot, however, vote in national Israeli elections, and while they are allowed to vote in Jerusalem’s municipal elections, most refuse to do so in protest.

News of the potential revocation of rights came as unrest continued throughout the West Bank on Monday.

A 22-year-old Palestinian was shot and killed by Israeli forces after he allegedly stabbed an Israeli, north of the city of Hebron.

Israeli soldiers evacuate the body of slain Palestinian Raed Jarradat on Oct. 26, 2015, in the Beit Einun junction east of the West Bank city of Hebron.
Hazem Bader / AFP / Getty Images

Police spokeswoman Luba Samri said initial reports indicated the Israeli was a soldier, but the military declined to provide details about the person's identity. Israeli media identified the "severely wounded" person as a 19-year-old who was reportedly stabbed in the neck. Local media identified the slain Palestinian as 22-year-old university student Raed Saket Abdul-Rahim Jaradat.

In the immediate aftermath of the killing, Palestinian protesters and Israeli forces clashed at the scene. A 17-year-old Palestinian, identified as Iyad Jaradat, was fatally shot in the head as clashes raged into the evening, local media reported

In a separate incident in Hebron, Israeli forces shot and killed Saad Muhammad Youssef al-Atrash, 19, outside the Cave of Patriarchs, known to Muslims as Ibrahimi Mosque, after he allegedly tried to stab a soldier. 

The recent surge in violence broke out in early October after Israel imposed restrictions on worshipers at Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem. After the restrictions were implemented, four Israelis were killed in two attacks blamed on Palestinians. Israeli settlers in the West Bank responded by rioting, assaulting Palestinians at random and destroying their property. A spate of protests, clashes and retaliatory stabbings have ensued.

Since the beginning of October, at least 53 Palestinians and 10 Israelis have been killed. More than 2,000 Palestinians have also been injured in clashes with Israeli forces, forcing the Red Crescent to declare an emergency.

Palestinian protesters are calling for unrestricted access to worship at Al-Aqsa, a site also revered by Jews as the location of two ancient temples. The protesters also demand an end to Israel’s decades-long military occupation of the Palestinian territories and the cessation of settlement building, both of which are illegal under international law.

Netanyahu on Sunday defended a U.S.-Jordanian-brokered plan to install video surveillance at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound. He said it could help refute claims that Israel is trying to restrict Palestinian access to the site and expand Jewish presence there. Palestinians, however, said they are concerned that Israel would use the cameras to spy on and arrest people.

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki called the measure a "new trap." He told Voice of Palestine radio on Sunday that Israel was planning to use such footage to arrest Muslim worshippers it believes are "inciting" against it.

Saeb Erekat, secretary-general of the Palestine Liberation Organization, said Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas had told Kerry "that he should look into the roots of the problem, and that is the continued occupation."

Negotiations for a Palestinian state to be created in the occupied territories have collapsed, and on Monday at Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee meeting, Netanyahu said that while he doesn't want Israel to become a binational state, "at this time we need to control all of the territory for the foreseeable future.”

Al Jazeera and wire services

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