More than 54,000 Palestinians suffer from the problem of not having an identity card, either by not being registered with the Israeli authorities at birth, or by having foreign nationalities.
Soad Al Ameri, the author of the book "Sharon and my mother-in-law" points out in sarcasm that her dog "Noura" had more civil rights than her when the dog was registered as a holder of a Jerusalem ID, while Soad spent her early years in the West Bank without one.
In the most blatant example of this ridiculous reality, the author tells of one time when an Israeli soldier was prepared to allow the dog and the car to enter Jerusalem, but not Soad herself, due to the ID card issue. However, Soad managed to convince the soldier that she was the dog’s driver, in order to be let into Jerusalem.
In many areas of the Palestinian territories, ID cards can determine one’s fate, especially at the hundreds of Israeli military checkpoints that dot the West Bank. Palestinians without a Jerusalem ID card (issued only for Jerusalem residents), try to steer clear of these checkpoints for fear of harassment, arrest or even expulsion at the hands of the Israeli soldiers. But the checkpoints are so widespread that they are impossible to avoid.
Mohammed, 25, from Ramallah, told Reuters news agency that his father didn’t register his name in the Israeli ID card system after his birth, and thus he wasn’t ever issued an official document. The Israeli government refuses to issue identity documents for Mohammed and hundreds like him, as he cannot find anything to prove he exists – not even a birth certificate indicating his name, date of birth and nationality.
Mohammed mentioned that he has tried to have an ID card issued for him for nine years now, but Israel keeps rejecting his application. He says that he has no future, as he is unable to go to university, open a bank account or even marry without an ID card.
A young man in the proper age for marriage, Mohammed approached the Palestinian Civil Affairs Ministry, which is helpless in his case, as nobody is allowed to register without the Israeli government’s approval.
The only solution for this dilemma is applying for "reunion" at the Israeli Interior Ministry, which is a process whereby Palestinians with ID cards can apply to ask for ID cards for their relatives living abroad.
As for the second group of those without ID cards, those 40,000 Palestinians who lived abroad and returned with different passports to the Palestinian Territories over the past ten years, Israel refuses to register them. They stay in the Gaza Strip or the West Bank as tourists, and have to travel abroad for several months each year until they can renew their visiting permits – which are always subject to Israeli approval and inspection, and possible refusal to enter at the border.
One Palestinian woman with a US passport who lives in Ramallah, in the West Bank, said that since her daughter was born six years ago, she has to travel outside the Palestinian territories four times each year to renew their permits.
"I’m a holder of a Jerusalem ID, while her father has a West Bank ID, so they [the Israelis] refuse to register her," she said. "So the only solution for me was to travel to the States and give birth to her there so she could at least get an American passport."
Hundreds of Palestinian families suffer the same problem, where one of the parents holds a Jerusalem ID, while the other has a West Bank one. They are forced to register half their children on one ID, and the other half on the second ID card.
But this problem escalated after the Israeli government decided to freeze all reunion applications for Palestinians after the second Intifada broke out in September 2000, followed by an Israel decision two years later to stop dealing with any pending Palestinian reunion applications.
Ziyad Al Hammouri, an attorney from the Al Quds (Jerusalem) Center for Social and Economic Rights, asserted that dealing with reunion applications was resumed last August, but with two new conditions that make the entire process harder than before.
"The first condition is that only men older than 35 years and women older than 25 years are allowed to apply for a reunion. The second is that the decision on a reunion application shall be delivered five years after the date of submission, and during that period, the applicant is not allowed to stay in the area," Hammouri said.
He further noted, "About 200,000 persons in Jerusalem and Israel will be at risk of having their ID cards revoked after the completion of the Israeli Apartheid Wall, because the Israeli government is creating enclaves, separated from both Israel and Palestine, and including areas on the Israeli side of the Wall where Palestinian residents live. But those residents will not be given Israeli IDs. This will put new obstacles before those who apply for a reunion."
*this article was sourced from the Palestine National Information Center