FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Accidental Immigrant

by AMIRA HASS

This past March, 44-year-old Hayan Ju’beh’s tourist visa expired, and he had to travel to Amman in order to receive a new one–a routine procedure for him over the last 10 years. “Three to four days and I’ll be back,” he promised his four children.

On the day of his expected return, his wife, 34-year-old Sawsan Quaoud, took their four children to a mall at El Bireh. The kids played games and she sat and watched them, drinking coffee and smoking a cigarette. It was then that she received a call from her husband.

The authorities didn’t allow him to pass through the Allenby border crossing, he told her.

What? At first she thought she misheard him, then she didn’t take him seriously. But he wasn’t joking.

Hayan Ju’beh was born and reared in Jerusalem, and lived there until he left to study theater abroad. He married an Irish citizen (who also has a British passport). In Britain their children 13-year-old Yussef and 11-year-old Sophie were born.

In October 1995 his wife passed away. Ju’beh decided to take the kids and move back to Jerusalem, to raise them among his large local family. The Oslo Accords and the hope of peace provided further encouragement to return to the city of his birth. He found a job working for the Jerusalem office of the MBC television network.

But in mid-1996, when he applied to renew his “laissez passer” travel certificate, which is issued to Palestinians when they travel abroad, Israel’s Ministry of the Interior told him: “You are not a resident.”

No rights at home

In December 1995 the Ministry of Interior began implementing a systematic policy of revoking the Jerusalem residency status of thousands of Palestinians who were born in the city, but for whom, according to the ministry, Jerusalem was no longer “the center of their lives”–and therefore their permanent residency permit had “expired.” This applied to all those who lived abroad in the past or at that time, as well as those Palestinians who lived in neighborhoods just outside Jerusalem’s municipal boundary. There was no official declaration of this policy. It only manifested itself as such when an increasing number of people discovered at the border crossings or at the offices of the Ministry of Interior that they were no longer defined as residents, and not as Jerusalemites, and were being stripped of rights in their own town.

Ju’beh was one of these people. His attempts to regain residency for himself and his children failed. He was without “identity,” without any legal document to prove his existence. Distraught, he applied for Irish citizenship, and received it. Since then he has been forced to leave his homeland every three months, to return as a tourist.

At the MBC office he met Sawsan Quaoud, a Nablus native and a Ramallah resident. In 1997 they married, and settled in Ramallah. In 1999 they established a television film production company; they also had two children. When they lost all hope of Ju’beh regaining his Jerusalem residency, they asked the Israeli authorities (through the Palestinian Ministry of Interior) for “family reunification” in Ramallah. That is, they asked Israel to allow him to become a resident of the Palestinian Authority. Israel did not do so; indeed, in all such cases since September 2000, has put the applications on indefinite hold.

Ju’beh’s two children from his first marriage are also considered tourists by law, and worse–as law-breaking tourists. They did not exit with their father every three months to renew their tourist visas, due to the high cost of such trips and the fact that they would miss school.

After Ju’beh was not let back in, Quaoud ran around for a month and a half between various government offices and lawyers. She called the Irish embassy, where the staff told her they had called the Israeli Ministries of Foreign Affairs and the Interior to protest and asked for explanations, but received no answer. In the meantime, Ju’beh decided to try his luck at the Sheikh Hussein border crossing at Beit She’an.

On May 3 Ju’beh was permitted to return through Beit She’an, but was granted only a month-long visa. Both he and his wife thought they would be able to extend it through the Palestinian Ministry of Interior.

Despite the severed relations between the two sides, in certain cases it is possible to extend a visa for spouses of Palestinian residents without having to exit the country.

However, this is only possible three or four times, after which the spouse must exit again–with no guarantee of return. Exasperated after not succeeding to extend his visa, in early June Ju’beh left for Britain.

Ju’beh decided not to act illegally, as some people do, by remaining in the country after his visa expired, to fight for his right to stay “from the inside.” That would have turned him into a prisoner in Ramallah. Indeed when traveling to work outside the city, at every checkpoint in the area, a soldier could have discovered his “crime” and would have the authority to deport him.

Gradually the couple accepted that there was no other solution: The entire family had to leave, and join Ju’beh in Britain.

Quaoud took care of all the arrangements on her own: She dissolved the company she and her husband established, apologized to the six cameramen who had lost their livelihoods, rushed to complete a film she had been working on for the last six months, packed, bid her farewells, and prepared the children for the move–everything in a rush to make it in time to enroll the children in school in Britain.

“We surrendered,” admitted Quaoud, on the eve of her forced departure to Britain.

The Israeli authorities that revoked Ju’beh’s residency of his native Jerusalem did not allow reunification with his wife in Ramallah, and finally also decided that even as a tourist, he does not have the right to live in his homeland.

AMIRA HASS writes for Ha’aretz. She is the author of Drinking the Sea at Gaza.

 

 

 

More articles by:
May 31, 2016
Miguel A. Cruz-Díaz
Imperial Blues: On Whitewashing Dictatorship in the 21st Century
Vijay Prashad
Stoking the Fires: Trump and His Legions
Patrick Howlett-Martin
Libya: How to Bring Down a Nation
Uri Avnery
What Happened to Netanyahu?
Corey Payne
Reentry Through Resistance: Détente with Cuba was Accomplished Through Resistance and Solidarity, Not Imperial Benevolence
Bill Quigley
From Tehran to Atlanta: Social Justice Lawyer Azadeh Shahshahani’s Fight for Human Rights
Manuel E. Yepe
Trump, Sanders and the Exhaustion of a Political Model
Bruce Lerro
“Network” 40 Years Later: Capitalism in Retrospect and Prospect and Elite Politics Today
Robert Hunziker
Chile’s Robocops
Aidan O'Brien
What’ll It be Folks: Xenophobia or Genocide?
Binoy Kampmark
Emailgate: the Clinton Spin Doctors In Action
Colin Todhunter
The Unique Risks of GM Crops: Science Trumps PR, Fraud and Smear Campaigns
Dave Welsh
Jessica Williams, 29: Another Black Woman Gunned Down By Police
Gary Leupp
Rules for TV News Anchors, on Memorial Day and Every Day
May 30, 2016
Ron Jacobs
The State of the Left: Many Movements, Too Many Goals?
James Abourezk
The Intricacies of Language
Porfirio Quintano
Hillary, Honduras, and the Murder of My Friend Berta
Patrick Cockburn
Airstrikes on ISIS are Reducing Their Cities to Ruins
Uri Avnery
The Center Doesn’t Hold
Raouf Halaby
The Sailors of the USS Liberty: They, Too, Deserve to Be Honored
Rodrigue Tremblay
Barack Obama’s Legacy: What Happened?
Matt Peppe
Just the Facts: The Speech Obama Should Have Given at Hiroshima
Deborah James
Trade Pacts and Deregulation: Latest Leaks Reveal Core Problem with TISA
Michael Donnelly
Still Wavy After All These Years: Flower Geezer Turns 80
Ralph Nader
The Funny Business of Farm Credit
Paul Craig Roberts
Memorial Day and the Glorification of Past Wars
Colin Todhunter
From Albrecht to Monsanto: A System Not Run for the Public Good Can Never Serve the Public Good
Rivera Sun
White Rose Begins Leaflet Campaigns June 1942
Tom H. Hastings
Field Report from the Dick Cheney Hunting Instruction Manual
Weekend Edition
May 27, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Pilger
Silencing America as It Prepares for War
Rob Urie
By the Numbers: Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are Fringe Candidates
Paul Street
Feel the Hate
Daniel Raventós - Julie Wark
Basic Income Gathers Steam Across Europe
Andrew Levine
Hillary’s Gun Gambit
Jeffrey St. Clair
Hand Jobs: Heidegger, Hitler and Trump
S. Brian Willson
Remembering All the Deaths From All of Our Wars
Dave Lindorff
With Clinton’s Nixonian Email Scandal Deepening, Sanders Must Demand Answers
Pete Dolack
Millions for the Boss, Cuts for You!
Gunnar Westberg
Close Calls: We Were Much Closer to Nuclear Annihilation Than We Ever Knew
Peter Lee
To Hell and Back: Hiroshima and Nagasaki
Karl Grossman
Long Island as a Nuclear Park
Binoy Kampmark
Sweden’s Assange Problem: The District Court Ruling
Robert Fisk
Why the US Dropped Its Demand That Assad Must Go
Martha Rosenberg – Ronnie Cummins
Bayer and Monsanto: a Marriage Made in Hell
Brian Cloughley
Pivoting to War
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail