Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein has ordered an end to the revocation of social welfare rights of Jerusalem Palestinians who moved outside the city's municipal borders but on the Israeli side of the West Bank separation barrier. The decision remedies a long-standing grievance of tens of thousands of Palestinians. It also strengthens the barrier's status as Jerusalem's de facto border, not the city's actual municipal boundaries.
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According to existing law, Jerusalem Palestinians who move beyond the municipal border lose their Israeli residential status as well as their eligibility to National Insurance Institute benefits. Following Weinstein's directive, however, those who move to areas between the city limits and the separation barrier will keep their NII benefits. In many past cases, the NII halted payment of benefits to Palestinians who had moved only several meters beyond Jerusalem's official borders.
Following several cases in which Palestinians with Israeli ID cards demanded their NII benefits since they reside on the Israeli side of the fence, though not within Jerusalem's city limits, the attorney general was obliged to deal with the matter.
A statement submitted yesterday to the Jerusalem District Labor Court by the NII following Weinstein's directive asserts that Palestinians with blue ID cards making them residents of Jerusalem even if they now live between the border and barrier should not have their rights harmed. Weinstein made it clear, however, that the liberalization will not apply to Palestinians who moved into the area after the construction of the security barrier, but only those who were living there when the barrier was constructed.
After the Israeli annexation of East Jerusalem following the 1967 Six-Day War, East Jerusalem Palestinians were given the right to Israeli citizenship, but few opted for it. Nonetheless they carry Israeli identity cards and unlike West Bank Palestinians are entitled to Israeli social welfare benefits. Most sections of the separation barrier follow Jerusalem's municipal borders as drawn after the city was unified in 1967. However in some areas the lines do not coincide, leaving tens of thousands of Palestinians living in Jerusalem but on the eastern side of the barrier, which has seriously impacted their lives and the municipal services they receive.