East Jerusalem – Facts and Figures, 2021
Every year, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel publishes facts and figures about the lives of Palestinian residents in Jerusalem. This year, like years in the past, indicates severe discrimination and neglect suffered by the residents of Jerusalem in almost all areas of life.
Jerusalem, Israel’s largest city, is home to 358,804 Palestinians — constituting 38% of the city’s residents. Despite this, the rate of resources and budgets allocated to the Palestinian residents of Jerusalem has been lower than their share of the population for the past decades—and far from what is necessary to meet their needs.
Discrimination in Jerusalem begins at an early age. East Jerusalem lacks 1,670 classrooms, but only 44 classrooms were constructed in the past year. Approximately 30% of Palestinian children in East Jerusalem are not enrolled in a regulated study program or institution.
Poverty rates in Jerusalem are the highest in Israel, and there is a widening gap between the Jewish and Palestinian populations. As early as 2017, about 75% of all Palestinian families in Jerusalem lived below the poverty line, compared to 22% of Jewish families. Following the coronavirus crisis, it can be assumed that these rates have continued to increase. Among children, the situation is even worse — 86% of Palestinian children in Jerusalem lived below the poverty line in 2017, compared to 33% of Jewish children.
Palestinian children in East Jerusalem pay a heavy price for this neglect, and this price is especially reflected in their encounters with law enforcement. In 2020, 73% of minors arrested in Jerusalem were Palestinian.
Discrimination is also reflected in the area of planning and construction. Only 15% of East Jerusalem — which accounts for only 8.5% of Jerusalem as a whole — is allocated for residential use by Palestinian residents. As a result, the density of housing in the Palestinian neighborhoods of East Jerusalem averages 1.8 people per room — almost twice as much as the Jewish neighborhoods the west of the city. Despite this housing crisis and the systemic failures in planning that are causing it, the rate of home demolitions in East Jerusalem neighborhoods has continued to rise in recent years.
Shira Livne, Director of the Human Rights in the Occupied Territories Unit: “The data speak for itself and paint a difficult and systematic picture of discrimination and neglect that has been ongoing for many years. Residents of Jerusalem are entitled to adequate services, protection of their rights, and investments into their futures. We will continue to work to ensure that the authorities fulfill their obligations to the Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem.”