White House voices concern at possibility of Jerusalem Arabs losing benefits

(JTA) – The U.S. Obama administration voiced concern about news that the Israeli government might revoke residency of Palestinians living in east Jerusalem.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a meeting Monday reportedly raised the possibility of pursuing such a move in response to the recent wave of violence that has rocked Jerusalem and the West Bank. Obama administration spokesman Josh Earnest responded the same day, the Times of Israel reported, saying the administration is reiterating calls on both Palestinians and Israelis to avoid “provocative actions and rhetoric.”

The move could affect the up to 80,000 Palestinians who live in parts of eastern Jerusalem that are on the non-Israeli side of the security barrier that Israel erected during the second intifada.

In 1967, Israel granted eastern Jerusalem Palestinians permanent residency status – a blue ID card giving them access to social benefits and health care, but they do not have Israeli citizenship.

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