August 8, 2010 - 12:00am

Israel intends to deport over 20,000 Palestinians out of Jerusalem whom it said don't have legal residency to stay in the city, a leading Palestinian human rights defender said on Sunday.

"Israeli Interior Ministry has already begun deporting Palestinians under the pretext that they stay in Jerusalem illegally," Ziad Hammouri, head of the Jerusalem center for social and economic rights (JCSER), told Xinhua.

The new procedure targets West Bank citizens who live in Jerusalem and possess property and ownerships even before Israel occupied the city in 1967, he said.

"It's an Israeli demographic war against the Arab presence in Jerusalem," Hammouri said.

The issue started two years ago when Israeli Interior Ministry asked the West Bank citizens who live with Jerusalemite wives in the holy city to apply for temporary residence permits, he added.

The Palestinians want the eastern part of Jerusalem as a future capital for their statehood, but Israeli leaders stress that the holy city cannot be divided.


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