State Department Changes Designation for People Living in East Jerusalem
The US State Department has changed its designation for some 350,000 people living in the eastern part of Jerusalem. While these individuals were previously labeled as “Palestinian residents,” they are now being described as “Arab residents” or “non-Israeli citizens.” Whereas Israel annexed eastern Jerusalem after capturing it from Jordan during the 1967 war, the Palestinian leadership claims the territory as the capital of a future state. Jerusalemites identifying as Palestinian generally hold Israeli residency permits, although few have citizenship. The altered terminology follows President Donald Trump’s recognition in December 2017 of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, as well as his decision to move the US Embassy there the following May. The change also comes less than two months after the release of the White House’s controversial Middle East peace plan, which envisions Jerusalem remaining under Israeli sovereignty in perpetuity. Currently, a six-member team of US and Israeli officials is mapping regions of the West Bank that the Jewish state will thereafter apply sovereignty to, with Washington’s blessing. For its part, the Palestinian Authority continues to reject the US proposal outright.