Some Palestinians could face benefit cuts, Israel warns

Netanyahu has raised the possibility of revoking benefits and travel rights of some Palestinians living in East Jerusalem

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has raised the possibility of revoking benefits and travel rights of some Palestinians living in East Jerusalem, a government official said on Monday, in response to a wave of Palestinian violence.

Such a move did not appear to be imminent or even politically 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.

Israel regards all the city, including East Jerusalem, which was captured along with the occupied West Bank in 1967, as its indivisible capital. Unlike their brethren in the West Bank, Palestinians in East Jerusalem receive Israeli social benefits and can move freely in Israel.

Many of the alleged assailants in one of the worst waves of Palestinian-Israeli street violence in decades have come from East Jerusalem.

Many of the Palestinian 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.

Since Oct. 1, at least 54 Palestinians, half of whom Israel says were allegedly assailants, have been shot and killed by Israelis at the scene of attacks or during protests in the West Bank and Gaza. Israeli police say 10 Israelis have been killed in Palestinian stabbings or shootings.

Citing comments at a security cabinet meeting held two weeks ago, the government official said Netanyahu mentioned the possibility of revoking some rights for Palestinians who live within Jerusalem’s municipal borders but outside the barrier

Israel built during a Palestinian suicide bombing campaign a decade ago.

Rights groups estimate that around 100,000, or almost a third of Jerusalem’s Palestinians, live beyond the barrier.

The official, however, said there was no discussion of the matter at the forum and Netanyahu did not ask that it be included on the agenda of a future meeting. Netanyahu’s remarks were first reported by Channel Two television late on Sunday.

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