A leading Palestinian Muslim cleric on Sunday issued a religious decree forbidding Palestinian Arabs from emigrating to other countries, and warning that doing so was permitting immigrating Jews to fundamentally alter the demographic balance west of the Jordan River.
Sheikh Hamad al-Bitawi, who is also a Hamas member of the Palestinian parliament, noted that thousands of Jews arrive in Israel every month, a fact that "makes the heart weep."
According to figures cited by Israel National News, some 10,000 Palestinian Arabs have fled the region since tensions between the ruling Hamas movement and its rivals in Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah erupted into armed conflict late last year.
Another 50,000 are reportedly seeking foreign citizenship.
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