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US calls East Jerusalem Palestinians ‘Arab residents’ or ‘non-Israeli citizens’

New State Department report ditches traditional term ‘Palestinian residents’ in move that continues Trump administration’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital

Palestinians shopping in the market in Jerusalem's Old City on November 22, 2019. (Sara Klatt/Flash90)
Palestinians shopping in the market in Jerusalem's Old City on November 22, 2019. (Sara Klatt/Flash90)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — The State Department referred to Palestinians living in East Jerusalem as “Arab residents” and “non-Israeli citizens,” ditching the traditional term “Palestinian residents” in a move that continues the Trump administration’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Reuters first reported the change Wednesday, which was evident in language in the latest State Department human rights report. West Bank residents are still described as Palestinian in the report.

Why it matters:

The overwhelming majority of Palestinians in Jerusalem, numbering some 340,000, prefer to be known as “Palestinian.” Palestinians have long sought East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state.

The move could inflame tensions in the debate over US President Donald Trump’s recently released Middle East peace plan, which would see Israel incorporate land that much of the international community sees as illegally occupied.

“Palestinian Jerusalemites are Palestinians, and they’ve been living there for centuries,” Hanan Ashrawi, a senior Palestine Liberation Organization official who lives in Jerusalem, told Reuters. “Just to decide this, to eradicate their identity and history and culture and rename them at will, is not only preposterous, it’s unconscionable.”

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