In change, US describes east Jerusalem Palestinians as 'Arab residents'

Palestinians in Jerusalem hold Israeli residency permits but few have citizenship. The wide-ranging report explored corruption, jails, the judicial system, and freedom of the press and of movement.

A map with the colors of the Palestinian flag reading 'Jerusalem is the eternal capital of Palestine' near Bilin.  (photo credit: MOHAMAD TOROKMAN/REUTERS)
A map with the colors of the Palestinian flag reading 'Jerusalem is the eternal capital of Palestine' near Bilin.
(photo credit: MOHAMAD TOROKMAN/REUTERS)
WASHINGTON – The US State Department changed its standard description of east Jerusalem Palestinians from “Palestinian residents” of the city to “Arab residents” or “non-Israeli citizens” in an annual global human-rights report released on Wednesday.
Notably, the report refers to Palestinians in east Jerusalem as “non-Israeli citizens possessing Jerusalem identity cards issued by the Israeli government.” Last year, the annual report referred to them as “Palestinians in East Jerusalem” or as “Palestinian residents of Jerusalem.”
Palestinians in Jerusalem hold Israeli residency permits, but few have Israeli citizenship.
“The United States recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in December 2017 and recognized Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights in March 2019,” the report said. “It is the position of the United States that the specific boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem are subject to final status negotiations between the parties. The Palestinian Authority exercises no authority over Jerusalem.”
“We strive to make decisions based on facts and reality, and decisions can only be made based on the truth,” a senior administration official said about the change.
PLO secretary general Saeb Erekat tweeted in response to the report: “Trump Administration has endorsed the narrative and policies of Israel’s annexation and apartheid: Their plan is about eliminating Palestine’s existence & identity, including in Jerusalem. It isn’t just a threat to a rules-based world order but to common sense & decency.
“We are Palestinians, Arabs, Christians, Muslims. We are the sons and daughters of Jerusalem. Jerusalem is our capital and our home. Changing the name from Palestinian residents to Arab residents is an attempt to disassociate the Palestinian people from Jerusalem,” he tweeted.
The wide-ranging report explored corruption, jails and the judicial system, as well as freedom of the press and movement both in Israel and in the Palestinian Authority.
It noted that during the last year, Palestinian militant groups launched 1,340 rockets and mortars from the Gaza Strip “toward arbitrary or civilian targets in Israel, killing six Israelis and injuring more than 150 Israeli civilians.
“Some Palestinians and Muslim religious leaders used antisemitic rhetoric and engaged in Holocaust denial,” the report said. “Anti-Israel sentiment was widespread in public discourse and sometimes crossed the line into antisemitism, including expressions of longing for a world without Israel and glorification of terror attacks on Israelis.”
“During times of heightened tensions between Israeli authorities and Palestinians, Palestinian press and social media sometimes circulated cartoons encouraging terrorist attacks against Israelis, and official PA media outlets published and broadcast material that included antisemitic content,” the report said.
Tovah Lazaroff and Reuters contributed to this report.


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