Photo Credit: Miriam Alster / Flash 90
View of the neighborhood of Ras al-Amud, (in Hebrew, Ma'ale Zeitim, or Mount of Olives) in the Shiloah (Silwan) section of Jerusalem. (file)

JewishPress.com columnist Paul Gherkin raised an important point in his article today, which is not just the fast growth rate of Jerusalem’s Arab population, but also that their poverty levels are high due to the fewer job opportunities that exist in Jerusalem compared to the rest of the country.

Makor Rishon’s token leftwing columnist, Shalom Yerushalmi pointed out last year that Jerusalem is at high risk of losing its Jewish majority – and it’s all Israel’s fault.

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As often as I find myself disagreeing with Yerushalmi, to the point where reading him as of late has become simply tedious, in this case he’s right.

There’s another significant factor that keeps Jerusalem’s Arab population size artificially inflated, despite the lack of housing and job opportunities – and it has nothing to do with religion.

After 1967, Israel found itself with a lot of Arabs in newly reunified Jerusalem, but not quite sure how to deal with this enemy population who mostly grew up hating Jews and Israel.

Eventually it was decided that Jerusalem’s Arabs would be given Residency Status – they would have full civil rights and benefits, except voting in national elections (they can vote in Jerusalem’s local elections), along with a path to citizenship, if they wanted to become Israeli citizens.

Most were happy with that option. They received all the benefits of modern Israeli society, without the stigma of acquiring that despised Israeli citizenship.

The downside is that Israel required these Arabs to reside exclusively and almost constantly in Jerusalem, otherwise they lose their Residency Status.

The unintended consequence is that Jerusalem’s growing Arab population can’t leave Jerusalem for any extended period of time to build a life elsewhere. If they do, they’ll lose all their Israeli benefits and residency status.

The option is still there for them to take Israeli citizenship – but most don’t want it and probably never will.

Yerushalmi’s plan is to get rid of the Jerusalem residency requirement.

Let them move to Nazareth, let them move to America, and let them keep their Israel Residency status.

The immediate effect will be an Arab exodus from Jerusalem, and possibly even an Arab exodus from Israel.

It would be as if they all took the citizenship option, without the downside of their acquiring national voting rights.

This idea is not without risks and problems, perhaps to be discussed in another article.

But as long as the path to citizenship remains open to them, there’s no risk of calling Israel an Apartheid state, just as Puerto Rico’s referendum against becoming a full US state doesn’t make the US an Apartheid state.

Perhaps, as Jerusalem’s Arab integrate into other Arab communities in Israel, get better jobs and settle down, they will become less religiously extreme. Some may want to take on full citizenship. Others may want to leave Israel completely, knowing they can come back if they wanted.

One thing is for sure, removing the Jerusalem residency requirement, would safely release one of Jerusalem’s most major pressure valves and keep the city unified.

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15 COMMENTS

  1. Not to be argumentative, but there's a flaw here. First, if you pay them to leave Jerusalem, or allow them to leave and maintain legal residency, they can always come back. Every time that Israel has brokered a deal, the Arabs have broken the deal. Look at the agreements signed, and none has worked. Still, they MUST go. They must leave on Israel's terms, not an agreement that they can take, or leave. Expel them, unless they do go for citizenship and prove their trustworthiness.

  2. We don't need them in America to bring their warped ideology here. If given the opprtunity they would not hesitate to come.
    Their welfare package would be better than in Jerusalem.
    Europe has accepted them with open arms….They rather have terrorists than scientists, musicians, and physicians.

  3. If you want to remove the Arab population from Israel, and especially Jerusalem, and take away their residency rights, you need to make it most attractive. Most other countries around the world will eventually find that they don't want any more Arabs due to the strife they bring with them — they want everyone in their country of choice to follow Sharia laws. They should really be returning to the Arab lands from which they came. The problem is that those governments don't want them and they will just join the rest of the Arab populations that have not left. You must remember that in many of these Arab countries the government does not have much in the way of making their lives better despite the megadollars they are worth. To make repatriation work, the Arab governments must welcome these people and have plans in place to educate them and create new infrastructures that will provide jobs, homes, education and a good lifestyle. When do you think that may ever happen?

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