by Stephen Lendman
In May 1948, Israel’s independence was Palestine’s Nakba. In June 1967, Jerusalem Day for Jews was Nakba 2.0 for Palestinians.
In 1948, Israelis stole 78% of historic Palestine. In 1967, they took the rest. In the process, they deprived Palestinians of their historic capital even though the UN declared Jerusalem an international city.
Israel transformed Jerusalem from a multi-cultural, multi-religious metropolis into a predominantly Jewish one. On July 30, 1980, the Knesset introduced the Jerusalem Law. It annexed the city as Israel’s unified capital.
On March 1, 1980, Security Council Resolution 465 declared that:
“all measures taken by Israel to change the physical character, demographic composition, institutional structure or status of the Palestinian and other Arab territories occupied since 1967, including Jerusalem, or any part thereof, have no legal validity and that Israel’s policy and practices of settling parts of its population and new immigrants in those territories constitute a flagrant (Fourth Geneva) violation….and also constitute a serious obstruction to achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East.”
On July 9, 2004, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled that “Israeli settlements in the Occupied Territory, including East Jerusalem, are illegal and an obstacle to peace and to economic and social development (and) have been established in breach of international law.”
Israel spurns international law and UN resolutions unfavorable to its interests with impunity. As a result, Palestinians have suffered grievously for decades.
A Snapshot of Arab East Jerusalem
Palestinians numbering 360,882 comprise 38% of Jerusalem’s population. Since 1967, residency rights for over 14,000 Palestinians were lawlessly revoked. Palestinian Jerusalem district poverty approaches 80%. For children, it’s 84%.
Help for those in need is seriously deficient. Thousands of children are at risk. Overall conditions are deplorable. Education is harmed by a shortage of around 1,000 classrooms.
Israel lets Palestinians build on only 17% of their land. Since 1967, about one-third of East Jerusalem was expropriated for exclusive Jewish development. Israel wants the entire city Judaized. Palestinians are being systematically forced out.
A combination of residency rights, permit authority, the Separation Wall, checkpoints, Jews only roads, and other restrictions, effectively isolate East Jerusalem from the rest of the West Bank.
Around 90,000 East Jerusalemites with blue Israeli identity cards lack access to most of the city. At issue are jobs, education, medical care, other vital services, and ability to visit family members.
In May, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel
(ACRI) published a report titled “Policies of Neglect in East Jerusalem: The Policies that created 78% Poverty Rates and a Frail Job Market.”
Annually, the Israeli National Insurance Institute publishes statistical data on the city. Its latest report reflects conditions explained above.
For Palestinians, they’re dire. Annually they deteriorate. Israel systematically denies them fundamental essentials required under international law.
Deplorable conditions exist. Palestinians endure intolerable levels of poverty, unemployment, underemployment, and ability to access essential services. Those with jobs are cheated. Many get minimum or sub-minimum wages with no benefits.
“The gravity of the situation….is the product, first and foremost, of Israeli policy making.”
Official policy debilitated Arab conditions. Before occupation, East Jerusalem thrived as the center of Palestinian urban life. It was “second to none” politically, economically, culturally, and religiously.
Thereafter, conditions deteriorated. Yet its own statute obligations and international law require Israel “to meticulously ensure the rights of East Jerusalem residents, and to seek unique solutions particular to their political situation. But over the past 45 years, both municipal and state authorities have instead conducted a policy of neglect and violation of the basic rights of the residents.”
In recent years, political, economic and social conditions experienced “a precipitous decline. The cumulative effects of annexation, neglect, rights violations, and the completion of the Separation Barrier have led to an unprecedented deterioration in the conditions of Palestinian East Jerusalemites.”
Key factors include:
(1) Separation Wall, checkpoints, permit authority, and other racist barriers enforce isolation from the West Bank. All aspects of life are harmed. Israel willfully enforces harshness to encourage and/or force Palestinians to leave.
(2) Poor job prospects increased poverty. They also reduce development options. Since 1999, over 5,000 Palestinian businesses closed or got eviction notices. Employment opportunities went with them.
(3) A chronic classroom shortage harms education and professional training prospects. As a result, many Palestinian youths leave the city. Some go to the West Bank. Others move abroad. Many are among Palestine’s best and brightest.
(4) Job and professional prospects especially harm women. As a result, only 15% of the female population have gainful employment. Most are underpaid in part-time jobs. Many are menial.
(5) West Jerusalem’s job opportunities lure qualified East Jerusalemites able to get there. However, many Jewish business owners won’t hire Arabs. At issue are racist policies, social tensions, and political considerations.
Moreover, public transportation to and from work represents a major obstacle. East Jerusalem’s system is separate and distinct from Israel’s in the city’s West. As a result, many qualified Palestinians won’t endure unusually long travel times and greater expense.
(6) Residency revocations and temporary status provisions created added intolerable burdens. The Knesset’s Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law froze family reunification procedures.
Palestinians married to Israelis are affected. Without rarely issued permits, either they live apart or together under occupation. Doing so forfeits basic rights. For some it’s a sacrifice too great to bare. As a result, family life is grievously harmed.
A Final Comment
Israeli policies bare direct responsibility for deplorable East Jerusalem conditions, including “the isolation of its labor market, the weakening of its Palestinian population, and the constant violation of its residents’ rights.”
“As long as Israel retains control over East Jerusalem, the government and the municipal authorities have a responsibility to do all in their power to bring about a significant improvement in East Jerusalem’s economy and employment situation.”
Israel’s spurns its obligations with impunity. Palestinians suffer. Conditions grow worse, not better. Israel’s long-term grand plan involves total Jerusalem Judaization as its exclusive capital.
Arab life is harsh and intolerable to encourage emigration. Others are forced out. Palestinian homes and other property are demolished to make way for exclusive Jewish development.
Palestinians have no recourse but to endure as best they can or leave. With no rights, bargaining power, or Fatah government support, they’re on their own to survive.
ACRI concludes saying:
“Unless Israeli authorities decide to invest the required effort and monetary resources in order to implement all necessary measures in order to safeguard the rights of the residents, taking into account East Jerusalem’s unique circumstances as described above, the cycle of poverty in East Jerusalem will only continue to widen.”
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