The Apartheid Separation/Annexation Wall and its Impact on Gender and Citizenship Rights

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Peace Studies Association of Japan (PSAJ)

Tokyo, 23 June 2018


The Apartheid Separation/Annexation Wall

 and its Impact on Gender and Citizenship Rights


Fadwa Allabadi


Israeli policies deny Palestinian Jerusalemites with blue identification cards, who live in either J1 (the part of East Jerusalem annexed and incorporated into the Israeli municipality of Jerusalem after the 1967 War) or J2 (populous Palestinian localities in eastern and northern Jerusalem that were excluded from the Israeli municipality of Jerusalem), their fundamental residency rights to adequate housing and freedom of movement, and as a result of Israeli policies their rights to health, work, education and family life are routinely violated. These policies include the plethora of (Israeli) legislative measures aimed at displacing Palestinians from within Jerusalem municipality boundaries by revoking these Palestinians’ residency rights in the city.


Furthermore, the apartheid wall was constructed on the Palestinian territories and isolates 43 percent of the Jerusalem governorate, including the route of the wall around East Jerusalem following the municipal boundaries in places around settlements and Palestinian villages, towns and neighborhoods. The wall fragmented East Jerusalem, dividing families and whole communities, and isolating East Jerusalem from the rest of the West Bank. Some neighborhoods within the municipal borders are relegated to the West Bank side of the wall (I refer to as “Area D”). Nearly sixty thousand Palestinian Jerusalemites reside in these neighborhoods. In addition, an unknown number of Palestinian Jerusalemites continue to live outside Jerusalem’s municipal borders.


The impact on women in these communities is particularly profound; the separation wall has hastened a process of economic and social decline that is imposing severe hardship on Palestinian Jerusalemites. This research examines the impact of the separation wall on the lives of married Jerusalemite women who live in what we will refer to as “Area D”: the areas within the Israeli municipality of Jerusalem, but located on the West Bank side of the separation wall. These women have been facing many challenges and have been trapped within constrained places, and spouses, who own different identification cards have been separated from their families by the separation wall and various checkpoints.


My paper investigates the difficulties that Jerusalemite women and their families face as the result of having different types of identity cards. It looks into the extent of changes in women’s everyday lives, and the sense of their connections to a particular place when they move out of their homes to new homes after the construction of the separation wall. Much of Jerusalem’s Palestinian population has been left no choice but to move out of their homes with no actual state protection. I examine women’s feelings of security and safety in their homes, as their daily crossings of military checkpoints and interaction with Israeli soldiers in “militarized” spaces. I also examine women’s fear of deprivation of their rights, and being separated from their families and communities.


Palestinian Jerusalemites with Israeli (blue) identification card whom either live in J1  or J2 , and residents of East Jerusalem who have moved out to live with their spouses in the West Bank or elsewhere, for example, run the risk of having their residency rights permanently revoked. Thus, Palestinians are effectively deprived of the basic right to reside in their homeland, hometown, and home-space.

This paper tells several women’s stories about being “stateless in their homeland,” shows how “these voices are constructed, produced, and reproduced through the gendered political geography of the space which the voices inhabit and arise out of. By considering East Jerusalem neighborhoods through the voices of suffering women, I explore displacement, political identity, citizenship, and legal status – and what degree of “permanent residency” is granted in general to the Palestinian Jerusalemites in the J1 area, and the specific status of Jerusalemite women with spouses holding a different identity cards, whether married, divorced or widowed. Considering “the territory as a bounded portion of relational space, and boundaries as a tool to organize these relations,” I see space reflecting a rationale embedded in the relationship between colonial power and its sovereignty in territory. Perhaps nowhere is this reflected more clearly than through the separation wall.


For more explanation about the rights of Palestinian citizenship, I will point out a brief history of the legal status of Palestinian nationality and citizenship which has gone through many different permutations reflecting the reality of the Palestinian people, for whom nationality and citizenship laws do not exist.  


Finally, I will talk about family unification between Palestinians who live in the occupied territories and Palestinians behind the Israeli separation/annexation wall, also between Palestinians in the occupied territories and those in the Diaspora. This, however, will show the Israeli severe policies regarding family unification and their impact on Palestinian women and their families. In family reunification cases it has long been the actual policy that women married to men without Palestinian identity cards (“foreign spouses”) had virtually no chance of being considered. These women are deprived of their right to unite with their husbands and children and to live with their families in the West Bank or Gaza.