Harriet Sherwood in Jerusalem
The Palestinian owner of an celebrated Jerusalem bookshop patronised by politicians, diplomats, authors and activists has won a rare victory in a six-year battle to be allowed to remain in the city of his birth.
Munther Fahmi, the proprietor of the small but well-stocked bookshop at the legendary American Colony hotel, said he was overjoyed at the news, received on Thursday, that he had been granted a temporary residency permit by the Israeli authorities. He and his lawyer are optimistic it will be made permanent after two years.
Fahmi's campaign to be allowed to remain in Jerusalem is backed by eminent literary figures including the Israeli authors Amos Oz and David Grossman and British and Irish writers including Ian McEwan, Roddy Doyle, John Banville and Simon Sebag Montefiore.
Following the reprieve, his immediate plan was to book a trip to the London Book Fair in April, he told the Guardian, confident he would be admitted back into Israel. "This has been a huge strain. I have been living with uncertainty for 15 years, unable to plan my life. Every time I left the country, I didn't know if I could come back."
The threat stemmed from Fahmi's absence from Jerusalem for almost 20 years, which resulted in him losing his residency permit. Despite having been born and brought up in Jerusalem, he had been forced to rely on a series of tourist visas since returning in 1997.Thousands of Palestinians have lost the right of residency in the city under similar circumstances. According to the Israeli human rights group B'Tselem, in 2006 there were more than 1,300 revocations...READ MORE