Jerusalem Hamas officials accustomed to dual life
|Etgar Lefkovits, THE JERUSALEM POST
||Apr. 21, 2006|
The four Hamas officials from east Jerusalem whose resident status the government has decided to revoke have long been used to the dual life led by Arab residents of the capital, caught in the middle between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
The rare decision to strip the three Hamas legislators and a cabinet minister of their Israeli identity cards, which grant them permanent residency in Jerusalem and freedom of movement the city and the West Bank, came a day after the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority government justified Monday's suicide bombing in Tel Aviv.
As city residents, Jerusalem's 240,000 Arabs receive an array of social services, including health care, unemployment and social security benefits.
The four Hamas officials have vowed to petition the High Court of Justice against the decision to revoke their residency rights, signaling months of legal delays, officials said Thursday.
Most of Jerusalem's Arabs hold permanent residency cards and Jordanian passports, having turned down full citizenship because they felt this would mean accepting Israeli rule over the city.
Since the reunification of Jerusalem, they have shunned municipal elections, but turned out to vote for Hamas in January's Palestinian Legislative Council elections.
Although the vast majority of Jerusalem Arabs have remained on the sidelines of violence over the last five years, preferring to focus on their coveted city jobs, most of the major suicide bombings in the city were carried out with the help of a local accomplice, whose freedom of movement proved invaluable.
Their Israeli identity cards have become increasingly valuable because of increased travel restrictions as a result of the construction of the separation barrier between Jerusalem and the West Bank.