Israel will grant citizenship and residency to Palestinian refugee families in Israeli prisons, a government minister said Wednesday.
The announcement was made at a Cabinet meeting, where Deputy Health Minister Avraham Aviner said the plan would be implemented in all the Israeli prisons.
Aviner did not specify how many families would be eligible to receive residency in Israel.
“The state will grant the Palestinian refugees their citizenship and their residency,” he said.
“We’re aiming to give them a right to return to their homes, and we will do that with the blessing of the cabinet.”
He did not give a specific number.
The Israeli government has not released any figures for how many Palestinian refugees live in Israel and how many are still in prison.
The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees has said about 10,000 Palestinians, including thousands of children, are imprisoned in Israeli facilities.
The government has also not provided any figures on how many refugees are currently living in Israeli detention facilities.
About half of the nearly 600,000 Palestinian refugees who live in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip live in Israeli settlements.
The Palestinians say Israel controls their lands and they want a state that allows them to return home.
The Palestinian Authority and Hamas, which control the Gaza Strip, have not responded to the proposal.
The idea of granting citizenship and permanent residency to the Palestinian refugee population has been around for years.
But it was not part of the official plan released last year by the government.
The plan, which the government says will be implemented on a case-by-case basis, would grant citizenship, permanent residency and “the right to immigrate to Israel,” according to the cabinet.
It was a part of an overhaul of Israel’s citizenship law, which is currently being discussed in the Knesset, Israel’s parliament.
The change would also allow Palestinians living in Israel to receive Israeli citizenship.