Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Honorary citizenship of the moon

By Amira Hass

"......He received citizenship, he agreed to receive citizenship, citizenship was granted. What difference does the wording make? It could just as well have said that the PA granted Barenboim citizenship of the moon, since the PA has no authority to grant citizenship (or in its more correct definition: Palestinian residency) to anyone. Not to Yasser Arafat, not to Mahmoud Abbas and not to an 80-year-old refugee woman who lives in Ein el Hilweh in Lebanon and continues to miss the almond tree that her grandfather planted in the village of Lubia (today's Kibbutz Lavi).

Arafat and Abbas, like several thousand other Palestinian Liberation Organization activists who returned to Israel in 1994, received their "Palestinian citizenship" and their Palestinian ID card (written in Arabic and Hebrew), because Israel permitted it. Because an Israeli civil administration clerk in the typed their details into the computer of the Israeli Interior Ministry, so that the ministry would permit the Palestinian Interior Ministry to print the ID card in its printing house, so that the data would appear on the computer screen of the last of the soldiers at the smallest of checkpoints.

The PA has no power to grant Palestinian residency to those who were born in pre-1948 Mandatory Palestine, nor does it have the power to grant residency to those born after 1948, within the borders of the State of Israel. It does not even have the power to restore residency to about 400,000 people who were born in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip after 1948, and Israel did everything possible over the years so that they would lose their right of residency: It issued injunctions limiting their right to stay abroad, prevented their return from abroad in time, did not take into account those who were not present during the population census of August 1967......

In spite of the wealth of information published in recent years, especially in Haaretz, about Israel's control of the Palestinian Population Registry, the facts are not absorbed. The PA is seen as a "state" with the sovereign right to grant "citizenship." For Israelis in particular it is hard to understand the extent of our domination over the Palestinians: After all, every Jew in the world has a right to come to Israel, and within a few days to become an Israeli citizen and to live not only in Israel proper but in any illegal settlement and any illegal and unauthorized outpost. "

No comments: