Israel sanctions East Jerusalem family for straddling Palestinian border

12:00 Sep 13 2011 East Jerusalem

According to government mapping agency the building in question is located is 65 percent in the PA and only 35 percent in Israel. A Jerusalem court says the family has not proved that most of its apartment building is in Israel.

By Nir Hasson for Haaretz

The Jerusalem District Labor Court rejected the demand of an East Jerusalem family to have their residency status in the city restored. The request of the Badriyas, who live in Kafr Aqab, was refused because their home straddles the line separating Israel from the Palestinian Authority.

Residency status confers eligibility for health insurance and National Insurance Institute coverage.

To be precise, according to government mapping agency Israel Survey the building in which the Badriya family's apartment is located is 65 percent in the PA and only 35 percent in Israel.

In issuing its ruling two weeks ago the court said the family had not proved that most of their apartment building is in Israel.

The fact that their actual apartment is within the municipal borders of Jerusalem, and that they pay municipal taxes to the capital, apparently was not taken into consideration.

The family's attorney, Ramzi Nadaf, said his clients would appeal the ruling.

In recent years the National Insurance Institute has informed a number of East Jerusalem families that their residency status had been canceled due to new measurements that found that the boundary between Israel and the Palestinian Authority crossed the house.

By law, residents of East Jerusalem who move beyond Jerusalem city limits lose their legal status in the city.

In the case of Diana Kurd, from Anata, north of Jerusalem, the District Labor Court actually went so far as to entertain a discussion of the precise place where her late husband used to sleep. Depending on whether his bed was in the State of Israel or in the Palestinian Authority, his widow would or would not be eligible for survivor's benefits. In that case as well, the Jerusalem Municipality considered the house to be in the city for the purpose of collecting municipal taxes, but the court did not count this in Kurd's favor.

Both the claim and the appeal were rejected, and Kurd lost her widow's pension.

Firas Abuahmad, the attorney who represented Kurd, said his client had no way of knowing her house was outside of Jerusalem. "Now, now only has her pension been cancelled but she is being asked to repay hundreds of thousands of shekels," he said.

The surveyor who measured the Badriya house, Ashraf Haj Yihiya, said a deviation of one millimeter on the map is five meters in a building. That means that an error on the map of two millimeters can move a whole building from Israeli to Palestinian territory.

The Jerusalem organization Ir Amim, which publicized the Badriya case, said: "Israel spares no effort in pushing Palestinians out of Jerusalem. This absurd ruling illustrates that Palestinians are conditional residents, and that is only the tip of the iceberg of regulations and laws intended to harm the status and rights of Palestinians in the city. Outwardly Israel is selling a false image of a united city, but in fact it is trying to empty it of Palestinians."

Meanwhile, a new opinion poll shows that despite hardships, Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem are relatively satisfied with their lives under Israeli rule. The survey, implemented by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy in cooperation with Princeton University and the Beit Sahur-based Palestinian Center for Public Opinion, found that almost half of East Jerusalem Palestinian respondents said they prefered to remain under Israeli sovereignty.

Only 23 percent of respondents said they would definitely prefer Palestinian citizenship to Israeli citizenship.

Among the reasons respondents cited for wanting to remain under Israeli sovereignty were relative freedom of movement, relatively higher income, employment opportunities and social rights.
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