Amir Salima, 21, from the Old City of Jerusalem, has no legal status – not in Israel, not in the Palestinian Authority and not anywhere else. He has no identity card, no passport, he cannot register for university studies, apply for a job, sign up for an HMO or open a bank account. He cannot visit the West Bank or anywhere else outside of Jerusalem. In fact, he can barely leave his house, for fear of being caught by the police.
Salima is a man with no identity. The absurdity of his situation is amplified by the fact that his parents and five siblings all hold Israeli identity cards. The reason is simple: unfortunately for him, he was born in a hospital in Ramallah, and not in Jerusalem.
Over the years, the Interior Ministry turned down several requests by his parents for an Israeli identity card for their son. In three weeks, the Jerusalem District Court is set to discuss a petition he submitted against the state through the organization Hamoked: The Center for the Defense of the Individual.
Salima fell victim to a complex legal situation in which Palestinians from East Jerusalem are eligible for “residency,” under the Entry to Israel Law, similar to tourists who enter Israel for a limited stay. Residency, however, does not pass automatically from parents to children, and the law does not address a situation in which the child of residents is born outside of Israel.
Salima was born in 1991 in a hospital near Ramallah, after his mother began having labor pains while visiting her sister, who lives there. “At first it didn’t matter, he was a child and there were no checkpoints,” said his father Naim.
The problems began when Amir’s parents tried to register him for school, but through connections and good will they managed to sign him up for a school in East Jerusalem, despite his not holding an identity card.
After a long journey through the bureaucracy, he managed to take his matriculation exams, using his father’s identity number. He got high marks on the exams, but three years have passed since then during which he has essentially been a prisoner in his own home.
In one case, a police officer even sought to expel him from his house, after declaring him “illegally present.” In another case, he was caught by police and strip searched. Since then, he is reluctant to leave home.
As a result, while all of his siblings are now completing degrees in law and engineering, Amir is stuck in his room, in a small house next to Herod’s Gate in the Old City, spending most of his time in front of his computer. “Facebook, Hotmail, what else can I do?” he says.
“Dad says driving him around in his car is more dangerous than transporting hashish,” says his brother Fadi.
In the petition, Salima’s lawyer Adi Lustigman argues that the right to legal standing is anchored in Israeli law and in international agreements signed by Israel.
“Amir Salima has spent his whole life in Israel on the seam line, a son to two parents who are Israeli residents and a brother to five brothers and sisters who are Israeli residents. His whole life is centered here. There is no other place where he can go and receive status,” she wrote.
“This obtuseness toward a person, when a government body knows that he is a minor, is deplorable and reveals the system’s double standard toward the Palestinians,” the petition states.
The petition concludes with a line from a Leonard Cohen song: “Show me the place, where you want your slave to go.”
The Interior Ministry said in response, “The family’s request was rejected due to various reasons, among them center of life. Moreover, their request was recently rejected by [an Interior Ministry] committee. Beyond that, our full response will be submitted to the court.”
Even WITH residency status or citizenship, when the State DECIDES you are in the way of illegal settlers moving into YOUR home, you are simply evicted.
First forced eviction of Palestinian family in Jerusalem’s Beit Hanina to make way for Jewish settlers
Submitted by Adri Nieuwhof
On 18 April, the Palestinian Natsheh family was evicted from their home in Beit Hanina, a Palestinian neighborhood in the north of occupied East Jerusalem The eviction was carried out by the Bailiff’s Office with police back-up. Beit Hanina’s first forced removal left two parents and nine children homeless.
Maxwell Gaylard, the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for the occupied Palestinian territory, immediately released a statement condemning Israel’s unlawful act. “Evictions of Palestinians from their homes and properties in occupied territory contravene international law, including the Fourth Geneva Convention, and should cease,” he said.
A few days later, the European Union missions in Jerusalem and Ramallah followed Gaylard’s example. The EU missions expressed their deep concern about the plans to build a new settlement in the midst of Beit Hanina, reported press agency AFP. The missions reiterated the EU position that Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory are illegal under international law.
Family has been on land since 1940s
The eviction follows a court case brought against the Palestinian families by Aryeh King, founder of the right-wing settlement organization Israel Land Fund. King claimed that the property belonged to Jewish residents prior to 1948 and were purchased by a Jewish buyer 35 years ago. Palestinian owner Khaled Natsheh could not prove his ownership of his property because land transactions in Beit Hanina between Palestinians are generally not filed with the municipality, he told the Jerusalem Post. Members of the Natsheh family possessed the land as far back as the 1940s.
The Jerusalem Magistrate Court decided to grant ownership of the property to King’s “client.” Following the court decision one Palestinian family “voluntarily” left their home after King promised to waive the NIS 250,000 debt the court awarded to the Israel Land Fund for damages. However, the Natsheh family refused to move. “Even if [King] gave me a million shekels I wouldn’t give him the keys,” said Natsheh. “I’m not going to leave, I will die here. Whatever they want to do, they can do. Whatever they want, I’m not leaving the house. If they kill me, they kill me,” he told the Jerusalem Post.
The Israel Land Fund plans to build 50 apartments for settlers on the land which is located close to the Jerusalem Light Rail. King advertised the Israel land Fund’s illegal business in Beit Hanina on twitter on 28 March:
Screenshot of Arieh King’s tweet with a photo of the Natsheh family home.
Judaizing Beit Hanina
The photo in King’s tweet shows the house of the Natsheh family. In Judaizing’ Beit Hanina in East Jerusalem, with backing from Americans, Jeff Halper described the harassment of the Natsheh family.
Driving Palestinians out of their homes in “east” Jerusalem is, as you can imagine, a dirty business. But its not terribly difficult. The Palestinians are a vulnerable population, poor (70% subsist on less than $2 a day), completely unprotected by the law or Israeli courts, and targeted by determined Jewish settlers with all the money and political backing in the world – much of its coming, of course, from the US, mainly from orthodox Jews and Christian Zionists. Over the past few days settlers led by Arieh King have been harassing Palestinian residents of Beit Hanina, according to King, settlers will “very soon” take over four houses, plus an additional two houses in the Palestinian neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, where violent nighttime evictions aided by the Israeli police have become commonplace. The immediate target of window-breaking, curses, violent encounters and now a police search of the home “for weapons” is the Natsheh family of Beit Hanina.
The illegal practices in Beit Hanina of King’s Israel Land Fund are welcomed by the Jerusalem Deputy Mayor David Hadari. “The city of Jerusalem needs to remember that every government talks about a united Jerusalem, that means that Jews can build in every place, and we’ll continue to build through the entire city,” he told the Jerusalem Post.
However, East Jerusalem is occupied territory under international law and Israel has no right to demolish Palestinian property, to evict Palestinians from their homes or land, or to build on Palestinian land: no walls, no settlements and no light rail. To condemn these violations of the rights of the Palestinians is not sufficient.