abu tir 88.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Following comments made by Internal Security Minister Roni Bar-On regarding Israel's intention to revoke the permanent residency status of four senior Hamas officials residing in east Jerusalem, Palestinian Legislative Council Mahmoud Abu Tir said Tuesday morning that he would not give up his residency status.
Abu Tir added that he would not resign from his position within the Palestinian Authority.
He said that Bar-On's decision was "undemocratic" and that he was considering petitioning the High Court of Justice on the matter, Israel Radio reported.
On Monday, Bar-On gave the four Hamas legislators a one-month deadline to renounce their affiliation with the terrorist organization in order to prevent Israel's revocation of their east Jerusalem residency status.
"You will either resign or you won't be with us," Bar-On told Channel 2. "The letters were delivered to them today, and they have 30 days to decide."
The four were called to a Jerusalem police station on Monday evening to receive the warning letters ordering them to commit to resigning the Palestinian Authority within two months, otherwise the procedure of revoking their status would be set in motion.
They refused to sign the letters and stated they did not intend to do as ordered, Army Radio reported.
The ultimatum was given to Abu Tir, Ahmed Abu Atoun, Khaled Abu Arafa and Mahmoud Totach. Abu Arafa serves as the Palestinian Authority's Minister of Jerusalem Affairs, while Abu Tir serves as the head of the group's list in Jerusalem.
MK Arye Eldad (NU-NRP) told Army Radio that Israel should have taken even more severe measures against the Hamas legislators. "If Hamas membership is a criminal offense, then why are the parliamentarians not put on trial and jailed?" he asked.
On the other hand, the move was widely condemned by Arab MKs. "The decision is terrible and unjust," MK Ahmed Tibi (UAL) said. "The right of east Jerusalemites to have a permanent residency status stems from their connection to the place and not the goodwill of the Israeli government."
Muhammad Barakei (Hadash) asserted that it "reflects the arrogance of an occupier, not proper administration."
Israel decided to revoke their residency in late April, following a suicide bombing that killed 11 people. Islamic Jihad carried out the attack, but Hamas leaders justified it as a legitimate response to Israeli aggression.
When the decision was initially made, Arab MKs visited the Hamas members in a show of solidarity, and human rights groups threatened to take the matter to the High Court of Justice.
If the four Palestinians' Jerusalem residency is rescinded, they will forfeit National Insurance Institute benefits and access to Israel's health and education services, according to an Interior Ministry spokeswoman. She said their official status would be that of foreigners, meaning they would need to receive visas to stay legally in the country. If those aren't granted, they can be removed for being in the city illegally.
At the time of the government's decision, a senior official said the move was meant to make life more difficult for Hamas members and "show them that there are personal consequences for their actions.
"They can't have it both ways," he said. "If they are part of a government that doesn't renounce terrorism, recognize Israel, or accept previous agreements, there will be a price to pay."
According to those previous agreements, Palestinians are not supposed to conduct political activity in Jerusalem.
Herb Keinon and AP contributed to this report.
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