Jerusalem: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has raised the possibility of revoking benefits and travel rights of some Palestinians living in East Jerusalem in response to a wave of Palestinian violence, a government official said on Monday,
Such a move did not appear to be imminent or feasible but its mere mention ran counter to a decades-old Israeli assertion that Jerusalem is a united city where Arab and Jewish residents enjoy equal rights.
Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the executive committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization, said the step, if adopted, would deprive Palestinians in Jerusalem of the most basic rights and services and provoke confrontations. "This alarming escalation, an inhuman and illegal measure, must be stopped immediately," Ashrawi said in a statement.
Israel regards all the city, including East Jerusalem, which was captured along with the West Bank in 1967, as its indivisible capital. Unlike their brethren in the occupied West Bank, Palestinians in East Jerusalem receive Israeli social benefits and can move freely in Israel.
Many of the Arab assailants in one of the worst waves of Palestinian-Israeli street violence in decades, fuelled in part by tensions over a holy site sacred to Muslims and Jews, have come from East Jerusalem.
Many of the attacks on Israelis are now occurring in the West Bank, rather than in Jerusalem where they started.
Israeli forces on Monday shot dead a Palestinian assailant who the army said had stabbed and wounded a soldier at an intersection near the town of Hebron. Hours later, another Palestinian was shot and killed by soldiers after he tried to stab an Israeli inside the town, the military said.
Separately, Israeli forces shot dead a Palestinian during stone-throwing confrontations at a nearby village, Palestinian officials said. The Israeli army had no immediate comment.