Rights of Jerusalem Residents

“It is my right to drive a car in Jerusalem and in Israel.

My name is Mohammad and I am a resident of East Jerusalem. It is my right as a resident to be able to drive my car in Jerusalem and in Israel. I shouldn’t have to wait for a bus, which can take hours [to arrive] at times, and I don’t want to have to call a taxi to go from one place to another.

According to Israeli law, I am prohibited from driving a car in Jerusalem and Israel; I haven’t committed any [traffic] violations, and I have never broken the law in any way. Yet, I am not permitted to drive [there] because I don’t have an Israeli ID [1]; rather, I have a family reunification permit [2] as a ‘temporary resident’ in Israel. The reason I have this [type of ID], despite having been born in Jerusalem and living there my whole life and my mother having an Israeli ID, is because my father has a Palestinian ID. [3]

A foreign tourist who possesses an international driver’s license and visits the country is allowed to drive here without any issues. As for me, even if I got an international driver’s license, according to Israeli law I would not be allowed to drive. I am permitted to live in Jerusalem, to receive national health insurance, and I also have many other rights, but driving a car in the country is not one of those rights.”

– Sent to 0202 – Points of View from Jerusalem

0202 Editor’s Notes:
[1] Most Palestinians living in East Jerusalem do not have Israeli citizenship, but rather have residency permits which allow them to live in Jerusalem. Permanent residency is contingent upon continuously residing in Jerusalem physically. If someone with permanent residency leaves Jerusalem to live elsewhere, their status is automatically revoked and they can no longer return to live in Jerusalem, until they show proof of residency such as bills, school enrollment, or home ownership documents.
[2] Family reunification is a legal process that allows spouses and families to apply for citizenship of one another’s countries. This is a legal term used around the world, but a particularly complicated issue regarding the legal status of East Jerusalemites, who hold a blue Israeli ID card and have permanent residency in Jerusalem.
[3] A Palestinian ID is issued by the Palestinian Authority to Palestinians living in the West Bank and is green in color, rather than the blue Israeli ID. Many East Jerusalemites marry Palestinians in the West Bank who have a green ID card which does not allow them to legally reside in Jerusalem or travel within the Green Line without permission. Most Palestinians holding this type of ID cannot receive permanent residency status in Israel.

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