Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly proposed the revoking for residency permits held by some 230,000 Palestinians living in the occupied East Jerusalem, Israel’s Channel 2 has revealed.
According to the report, Netanyahu suggested the measure to remove Palestinians located in the Kufr Aqab and Sawahra neighbourhoods, as well as the Shufat refugee camp, in a government meeting in November.
The proposed figure amounts to a significant proportion of the 350,000 Palestinians living East Jerusalem, the expulsion of whom would make the remaining Palestinians a minority to the 200,000 illegal Jewish settlers also residing in the municipality.
According to Palestinian settlement affairs expert Kahil Tufakji, Netanyahu’s plan also covers the 195,000 Palestinians living inside the separation wall that cuts across East Jerusalem, extending to the neighbourhoods of Jabl al Mukaber, Al Issawiya, Al Tur, Shufaat and Beit Hanina.
“According to the plan prepared by former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Jerusalem will be a Jewish-majority city of 88 percent and an Arab-minority of 12 percent by 2020,” Tufakji told Anadolu Agency.
East Jerusalem was occupied and subsequently annexed by Israel following the Six-Day War in 1967, a move considered illegal by the international community.
In 1980, the entire city of Jerusalem, including the parts outside of the separation wall, was recognised by the Israeli government as the capital of Israel.
On the other hand, Palestinians want East Jerusalem to be the capital of Palestine, and demand that Israel returns to its pre-1967 borders.
East Jerusalem is home to the Al Aqsa Mosque compound, which serves as one of the holiest places in Islam and is seen as a symbol of Palestinian sovereignty.
Archeological excavations near the site have alarmed Palestinians, who complain tunnels being dug underneath the compound are intentionally destabilising the mosque and causing irreparable damage.
Clashes in and around the compound between Palestinians and Israeli forces often flare as a result of breaches on the compound by settlers, with Palestinians fearing an attempt on behalf of the Israeli authorities to gradually judaize the city.
To date, some 14,500 Palestinians in Jerusalem have had their residencies revoked by the Israeli authorities since 1967, Israeli Interior Ministry data shows.