Palestinians’ permanent residency status in Israel is conditional on proving their “center of life” lies within the Israeli-defined municipal boundary of Jerusalem, a precarious status that can be revoked under many circumstances, including living outside the municipal boundary for extended periods of time. Between 1995 and 2000, Israel revoked the residency status of some 3,000 East Jerusalem Palestinians in what the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs called “quiet deportation”. It revoked another 7,000 Palestinian Jerusalemites’ IDs between 2006 and 2011, which contributed to the subsequent upsurge in applications for citizenship.
In addition, some 50,000 Palestinians live inside the municipal boundaries of Jerusalem but are cut off from the city by the separation barrier. Becoming an Israeli citizen often calms their fears that they may lose access to the city altogether should Israel decide to redraw the municipal boundaries along the route of the barrier.
Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat expressed sympathy for such a plan in 2011, suggesting that parts of municipal Jerusalem that lie on the Palestinian side of the security barrier should fall under the Palestinian Authority’s jurisdiction rather than that of the municipality.