By Daoud Kuttab
Daoud Kuttab is a Palestinian journalist and former professor of journalism at Princeton University.
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|Israeli restrictions on movement strangle Palestinian life|
Jordan, which does not consider the bridge an international border, does not allow Palestinians to use the Sheikh Hussein Bridge.
The Israelis give Palestinians in East Jerusalem a travel permit called laissez-passer, but that travel document is not renewed if one cannot prove that the "center" of one's life is Jerusalem.
If one lives outside the city for an extended period of time, one loses one's right to it even if born in it.
Travel in and out of Jerusalem is much more restrictive if one is a Palestinian Jerusalemite, unlike Jewish settlers who have alternative roads and much easier procedures at checkpoints.
I was told that if one has a foreign passport with an Israeli stamp, one is allowed in as long as the person is not of Palestinian origin.
So even if one has a European or American passport, being born in Jerusalem automatically bars one from obtaining a visa at the airport, while other citizens from the same country can get a visa even if they have an Israeli stamp on their passports.
The travel troubles facing Palestinians, especially those of Gaza, are apparently a major motivation for attempts to emigrate (legally or illegally) to Europe or any other Western country whose passports are much more respected than Palestinian or Arab passports.
Frustration about not being able to travel freely and seek opportunities elsewhere is apparently a strong motivator for joining radical groups.
When Palestinian officials meet this week indirectly with the Israelis under Egyptian supervision, the issue of the airport will be discussed.
While few hold hope that the Israelis will allow the reopening of the Gaza International Airport, there is ample evidence that the issue of freedom of movement is not a demand by one single Palestinian faction, but a requirement for a sane life by all Palestinians.
Darwish's desire to return to his homeland produced verses. To Palestinians living in the occupied homeland, the freedom of movement is a top priority.
The issue cannot be shoved under the carpet anymore.
The views expressed in this article are the author's and do not necessarily reflect Ma'an News Agency's editorial policy.