All-time high: Israel granted citizenship to 1,200 East Jerusalem Arabs in 2019

All-time high: Israel granted citizenship to 1,200 East Jerusalem Arabs in 2019

Around 1,200 Arabs residents of East Jerusalem received Israeli citizenship in 2019, an all-time high number since Israel liberated the eastern half of the city in 1967.

The number of citizenship applications that were rejected also rose sharply in 2019.

A Supreme Court decision last year criticized the inefficiency in the citizenship request system, prompting the Interior Ministry’s Population and Immigration to speed up its handling of applications.

East Jerusalem Arabs received a permanent residency from Israel in 1967 and 95 percent of them still have that status.

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As permanent residents, they have no passports and no right to vote in Knesset elections, and they can lose their social security benefits and their residence if the state suspects that the center of their life is in Arab territories rather than Israel or they are linked to terror activities.

Any East Jerusalem Arab can apply for citizenship. Few do so, over the Arab worry that accepting citizenship amounted to recognizing the Jewish State’s right to exist.

The Population Authority invokes many reasons for refusing citizenship, including insufficient knowledge of Hebrew, suspicions that the applicant’s center of life is in the Arab territories or close relationships with terrorists.