Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has ordered a review of the status of certain Palestinian neighborhoods in east Jerusalem, an official confirmed Monday, a decision that could potentially strip tens of thousands of Palestinians of their Israeli residency rights.
Such a move is unlikely to overcome Israeli legal hurdles, but the very prospect has unnerved Palestinians in the city. The review comes after weeks of Israeli-Palestinian violence, much of it concentrated in east Jerusalem, the section of the city claimed by the Palestinians for their future capital. Many of the Palestinian attackers involved in deadly assaults came from east Jerusalem neighborhoods. Any move to change the status of the city’s Palestinians would threaten unleashing new unrest and draw international condemnations.
The current round of violence began last month with clashes at Jerusalem’s most sensitive holy site, a hilltop compound in the Old City that is revered by Jews and Muslims. The clashes quickly spread to other areas of east Jerusalem, across Israel and into the West Bank and Gaza Strip. In all, 10 Israelis have been killed, mostly in stabbings, while 52 Palestinians, including 30 identified by Israel as attackers, have been killed by Israeli fire. Palestinian neighborhoods in east Jerusalem have experienced frequent clashes between stone-throwing youths and Israeli security forces.
The Israeli official said that Netanyahu recently ordered a review of Palestinian neighborhoods located outside of Israel’s West Bank separate barrier. Roughly-one third of the city’s Palestinian population, about 100,000 people, live outside the barrier.