Illegal PA Arabs to Be Granted Residency Permits, Court Rules

View of the security fences and the Arab village of Kafer Akeb, seen from the Atarot Industrial zone. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Eleven Palestinian Authority Arabs who illegally entered Yerushalayim and presented false documents claiming to own a property there – which is actually owned by Jews – in order to gain residency status will be allowed to remain, the High Court ruled. The case has been moving through the courts for over a decade, and the court decided that due to the amount of time the illegal Arabs have been living in the city, it would be harmful for them to be sent back to PA areas.

The eleven are members of the Salah family, which entered a house in the Arab neighborhood of Beit Safafa and squatted there. The family forged documents claiming ownership of the house, and they used it in order to gain residency status in the city. It emerged that the documents were forged, and that the house is actually owned by Jews. The city and the owners of the house took legal action against them.

Lower courts at the time ruled, however, that although the Arabs entered the city illegally and really had no right to remain, the construction of the security fence in the city constituted a major impediment to their ability to work and go to school, as they had set roots in Beit Safafa. The Salah family subsequently asked for residency permits, but the Interior Ministry refused to issue the permits – and the family subsequently sued, with the case finally arriving at the High Court this year.

According to the court’s decision, the fact that the Salahs had illegally entered the country, illegally squatted on a property they did not own, and forged documentation to that effect was not sufficient to send them back to PA-controlled areas. The government is obligated to act in a humanitarian manner, and take into account that all members of the family, except for the father, have been living in the city their entire lives.

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