Ramallah – For exiled Palestinian parliamentarian Khaled Abu Arafeh, it felt like a small step towards reuniting with his family in Jerusalem.

Israel’s Supreme Court last month accepted a petition on behalf of Abu Arafeh and three other Palestinian parliamentarians who were expelled from the city, cancelling the revocation of their Jerusalem residency.

“I know that our cause is a just one,” Abu Arafeh told Al Jazeera. “Jerusalem cannot be replaced by any other city, and I am eagerly waiting for the day I can return to Jerusalem.”

According to a recent Human Rights Watch report, Israel revoked the residency status of almost 15,000 Palestinians between 1967 and 2016. The majority of those cases involved a failure to prove that an individual’s “centre of life” was in the city, but there have also been cases of punitive revocations and collective punishment against family members of Palestinians who were accused of attacking Israelis, as well as a number of individuals accused of “breach of loyalty”.

Abu Arafeh’s case took 11 years to reach Israel’s highest court. In 2006, he, along with Mohammed Totah, Ahmed Attoun and Mohammed Abu Teir, was elected to the Palestinian Legislative Council on the list of the Change and Reform Movement. Abu Arafeh was also appointed Palestinian minister of Jerusalem affairs.

Israel’s interior minister, Roni Bar-On, subsequently revoked their residency status, citing a “breach of loyalty” to Israel. The accusation was related to their election to a foreign parliament and alleged membership in Hamas. All four men appealed against the decision and were deported to the occupied West Bank in 2010.

But in its September ruling, the Supreme Court decided that the interior minister lacked the authority to revoke the men’s residency according to existing Israeli law, and reversed Bar-On’s decision …

The above is an extract from an Al Jazeera published on 7 October 2017

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