The Palestine Telegraph

Israel threatens to deport E. Jerusalem man to U.S.

Sunday, 31 January 2010 11:25 Added by PT Editor pam rasmussen

Jerusalem, January 31, 2010 (Pal Telegraph; reprinted from Haaretz, by
Amira Hass) - The Interior Ministry is demanding that a Palestinian
resident of East Jerusalem be deported for having spent too many years
in the United States. Elias Khayyo - who holds no foreign citizenship
- has been detained for three weeks at Givon incarceration facility in
Ramle with other people deemed illegal residents and slated for
deportation.

Khayyo, 41, was born in East Jerusalem and currently resides in the
Christian Quarter of the Old City, where his parents also live. He
says he has no relatives in America, nor a home, property or
employment there.

The Interior Ministry, however, maintains that his permanent residency
in Israel was revoked in January 2006, due to Khayyo having lived in
the U.S. from 1998 to 2005 and receiving permanent-residence status
there. Khayyo received bachelor's and master's degrees in biology over
two extended stays in the U.S. He is now working as a translator in
Jerusalem.

The ministry claims Khayyo resided abroad for more than seven years,
and that he returned to Israel in 2005 as a tourist by presenting U.S.
travel documents.

Khayyo was detained at the Qalandiyah checkpoint on January 10 while
en route from Ramallah to Jerusalem, and his identity documents and
mobile phone were confiscated. He was instructed to sign unspecified
documents but refused, stating that the documents in question were
written only in Hebrew.

Khayyo was then transported to Givon by members of the Oz task force
against immigration violations. Once there, he was informed that
papers had been filed for his deportation from Israel.

>From his incarceration, Khayyo told Haaretz by phone that he had
studied in the U.S. from 1990 to 1996, then returned to Jerusalem. He
replaced his expired ID card with a new one, and did not encounter
problems with Israeli authorities.

After capturing and annexing East Jerusalem in the 1967 Six-Day War,
Israel granted Palestinian residents living there permanent residency
- a status based on the Law of Entry to Israel," even though they and
their families didnot enter Israel, but were born in Jerusalem.

In 1998 Khayyo returned to the U.S. to pursue a master's degree. He
married a U.S. citizen and began the naturalization process to receive
citizenship. The day after the September 11, 2001 attacks he was
dismissed from his job - in his view, due to anti-Arab and anti-Muslim
sentiment. In 2002, he and his wife divorced. Khayyo comes from a
Christian family. His mother, Elizabeth, is of Armenian descent, whose
family survived the genocide in Turkey.

In 2005 Khayyo decided to return to Jerusalem. He said he had sought
to have his Israeli-issued travel documents extended, but was told by
the Israeli consulate in Philadelphia that due to his possession of a
U.S. Green Card he had to enter Israel as a tourist, and have his
American travel document stamped with an Israeli visa, valid for three
months. Consulate authorities told him his status vis-a-vis Israel
would be taken care of once in the country.

In 1995, under Haim Ramon, the Interior Ministry began taking a harder
line against East Jerusalem Palestinians, revoking the
permanent-residence status of many of those living outside the
municipal borders of Jerusalem (often due to policy-created housing
shortages) and those living abroad.

In 2000, after a long public campaign against the new measure,
then-minister Natan Sharansky told the High Court of Justice that the
Interior Ministry would return to its pre-1995 policy, and vowed to
reinstate the permanent-residence status of those East Jerusalemites
for whom it had been revoked, as long as they had been living again in
the city for at least two years.

After returning to his Jerusalem home, Khayyo contacted an attorney
and understood from him that he fell within Sharansky's category of
Jerusalemitee entitled to permanent residency status.

The Interior Ministry maintains that his ID card was revoked in 2006,
though Khayyo had used it throughout the four years since then without
complications.

Attorney Nabil Izhiman, whom Khayyo contacted when placed into the
immigration authorities' custody, petitioned the Administrative Court
to issue a preliminary order to prevent Khayyo's deportation and the
revocation of his residency. For now, the deportation has been
postponed.