To understand better Benvenisti's position on "natives and immigrants" an older article submitted by Avi will be helpful.
Between immigrants and natives
By Meron Benvenisti
From Haaretz Fri., June 02, 2006
It's been less than two weeks since the High Court of Justice
issued its ruling maintaining the deprivation of the rights of
Palestinians to reunify their families, and we already have the
decision that Palestinian MPs from Hamas, living in Jerusalem,
will be expelled if they don't resign within 30 days.
The suspicious will find a connection between the two decisions
and wonder if the government is deliberately attempting to try the
public and legal system's patience for evil acts bordering on
racism, as preparation for even more brutal steps. According to
the reactions so far, there have been no firm demands for an end
to this cruelty and the government can continue on its merry way;
the security excuse serves as an effective fig leaf from any
domestic criticism and foreign criticism can always be rejected as
forms of anti-Semitism.
Seemingly, there is no connection between the prevention of family
unification and the threat of expulsion; but the two matters touch
on basic perception of the status of Palestinians in their
homeland: It's no accident that both issues fall within the realm
of "entry to Israel," whether preventing it or stripping it.
The Israelis, children of immigrants, who in the best case are
only separated by a generation from the status of refugees -
uprooted and expelled - impose on native Palestinians the status
of foreigners, of living in a country to which they do not belong,
forcing them to fight for the right to live in their home, and
exposing them to an expulsion decree or banning their "entrance"
on the grounds that they "do not belong."
Not many years have lapsed since the Jewish yishuv fought for its
legitimacy and was forced to defend itself from the argument that
it was a collection of immigrants taking over a country they did
not own, until the situation was reversed; now it is the
Palestinian nation that has to fight for the collective legitimacy
that this is their homeland and that they are not some collection
of foreigners breaking into a country that is not theirs, and
nothing but a gang of terrorists.
The Palestinians seeking family reunification and the right to
live in Israel are rejected because they are aliens and their
presence here "could change the face of Israeli society." The
Jerusalemite MPs, like all the Palestinian residents of Jerusalem,
never asked for their status as permanent residents; it was
imposed on them.
In 1967, Israel conquered East Jerusalem and sought to annex the
territory without annexing the inhabitants. The legal trick
invented for the purpose imposed on the 70,000 Arabs of East
Jerusalem the status of "permanent resident" as if they were new
immigrants who had not yet been naturalized as citizens. But in
this case, it wasn't the Arabs who emigrated to Israel, but Israel
that emigrated to them. Under the conditions that prevailed at the
time, it was a liberal approach, even if it was a contravention of
international law, since on the one hand, their status as
Jordanian citizens was not stripped from them - and it was
important to them since the Jordanian kingdom was their economic,
administrative, family and educational centers - and on the other
hand, the "permanent residency" gave them the right to enjoy the
benefits of Israel's welfare system, freedom of movement and
relatively broader freedom of speech than existed in the occupied
It wasn't a favor being done by the Israeli occupiers, because the
alternative - granting them Israeli citizenship as happened to the
Arabs of the Triangle annexed in 1949 - was worse; and leaving
them without any status in Israel would contradict the pretensions
of "unifying the city" and would have perpetuated the occupation
Therefore, the interior minister's bragging that he is doing a
favor by paying them National Insurance Institute payments, child
allotments and health insurance, is hollow and patronizing. This
arrangement, after all, is 40-years-old, and enabled people like
Ehud Olmert and Ronni Bar-On to take pride in the "unification of
Jerusalem" and to condemn "the leftists who neglected East
Jerusalem because they wanted to divide the city."
The suspicion sneaks in that the emphasis on denying permanent
residency (and the denial of the package of rights that accompany
that residency) is preparing the groundwork for similar steps
toward thousands among the 230,000 Palestinian residents of the
city who were imprisoned on the western side of the separation
wall. If the election of a person in democratic elections and
according to a published platform can be an excuse to strip them
of a "permanent status," meaning expulsion from their home, and if
the definition of every Palestinian is as an "alien" and an "enemy
subject" strips them of their right to "permanent residency" -
what does that mean for all the inhabitants of East Jerusalem?
Is this the message the government wants to send - we are capable
of denying the right to live in Jerusalem - a message that means
expulsion or stripping of the rights that have been granted and
procedures that have existed for nearly 40 years? And then we're
shocked by the rising protests overseas, condemning Israel as an
apartheid state. Those who plot to expel Mohammed Abu Tir from his
home justifiably earned the condemnation and disgust.