Damascus Gate and Salah Al-Din Road in East Jerusalem.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Although the rate of applications by residents of east Jerusalem for Israeli citizenship has remained steady in recent years, the approval rate has plummeted.
Figures obtained by The Jerusalem Post in advance of Jerusalem Day being observed Sunday, provided by the Interior Ministry’s Population and Immigration Authority, reveal the ongoing decrease in the approval rate.
In 2012, 426 of 719 citizenship applications were approved.
In 2013, the number dropped to 262 of 705 applications. In 2014, only 49 of 875 requests were approved. Last year, a mere 24 of 829 citizenship requests were approved. So far this year, four of the 396 applications have been stamped “yes.”
Over the past decade, 2,641 of the 7,168 applications were approved, for an acceptance rate of 36.8 percent. By contrast, in 2015 the acceptance rate was 2.9 percent.
Since applications can take several years to process, those approved in a particular year may have been filed previously.
Asked why the acceptance rate has plummeted, an Immigration Authority representative responded, “We do not analyze the data.”
As a result of the Six Day War in June 1967, in which the capital was reunited, some 350,000 Jerusalem Arabs today live under Israel’s authority, making up 35% of the city’s population.
While all hold blue Interior Ministry ID cards marking their permanent residence status and they receive National Insurance Institute benefits, the great majority are not Israeli citizens.
Many are stateless.
The vast majority of those Arabs decline to apply for Israeli citizenship. “I declare I will be a loyal citizen of the State of Israel,” reads the oath that must be sworn by naturalized citizens.
Similarly, only around 1.5 percent of Arab residents vote in municipal elections even though they have a right to. As a result, Arabs have no representative in the city council who can advance their interests.
A knowledgeable government source, after viewing the data, told the Post, “The Interior Ministry is not committed to the reunification of Arab families, and rightly so. The problem is that some good and loyal people suffer from this policy.”
However, said the source, “The security situation makes a good excuse to deny these applications,” adding that many rejected applicants have appealed their cases in court.
Reuters contributed to this report.