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  • thawra abukhdeir

East Jerusalem - Situation Report

Approximately 358,804 Palestinians live in Jerusalem, the largest city in Israel, comprising about 38% of all the city's residents. The vast majority of them live in neighborhoods located to the east and south of the city.

Following the annexation of East Jerusalem in 1967, its residents received the status of permanent residents in Israel. This implies that as long as Israel controls the territory of East Jerusalem and defines its residents as residents of Israel, it is obligated to treat them equally. Even according to Israeli law itself, these residents are entitled to all the services and rights enjoyed by citizens of the country, with the exception of the right to vote in Knesset elections. Nevertheless, since 1967, Israeli authorities have refrained from allocating sufficient resources to East Jerusalem, which would enable the provision of suitable services to its residents and meet the physical needs of the area and those of the growing population.

The Israeli policy of discrimination and neglect is effectively expressed in all aspects of daily life: discrimination in the fields of planning and construction; land expropriation; minimal investment in physical infrastructure; and government and municipal services. This leads to challenging living conditions and a series of basic human rights violations, including the rights to water, housing, education, welfare services, and human dignity. For example:

  • Already in 2017, 75% of all Palestinian families in Jerusalem lived below the poverty line, compared to 22% of Jewish families; and 86% of Palestinian children in Jerusalem lived below the poverty line, as opposed to 33% of Jewish children. It is safe to assume that following the coronavirus pandemic, the situation has only intensified.

  • Only roughly 15% of the territory of East Jerusalem (which is 8.5% of the entire territory of ​​Jerusalem) is intended for Palestinian residents’ housing.

  • Merely 2.6% of all land in East Jerusalem is designated for public buildings for the city’s Palestinian population.

  • Residential density in the Palestinian neighborhoods of East Jerusalem stands at an average of about 1.8 people per room – nearly twice the density of Jewish neighborhoods in the west of the city, which stands at one person per room.

  • As of 2018, only approximately 44% of East Jerusalem residents were connected to the water network in a regulated and legal fashion.

  • In East Jerusalem, there is a shortage of roughly 1,670 classrooms. About 30% of Palestinian children in East Jerusalem (43,760 in total) are either not enrolled in a formal schooling framework, or it is unclear to which schooling framework they belong.

  • There are only six welfare offices in operation in East Jerusalem, compared to 18 in the rest of the city. There are an average of 5,664 clients at welfare offices in East Jerusalem, as opposed to 3,079 in the rest of the city.

Beyond discrimination and neglect, Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem suffer from over-policing, police brutality, and ongoing violations of freedom of expression and protest. In 2021, 71% of the minors (12-17 years old) arrested in Jerusalem, and 82% of the minors in Jerusalem who were arrested through the end of the proceedings, were Palestinian. Approximately 86% of the 12-13 year olds arrested in Jerusalem in 2021 were Palestinian.

The situation in which residents of neighborhoods beyond the separation barrier live, is especially troublesome. The separation of the city from the West Bank, following the construction of the barrier, brought about this part of the city’s economic and social collapse. The vast majority of residents in neighborhoods beyond the barrier do not receive and cannot purchase the most basic services, and their rights to adequate living conditions and dignity are critically compromised.

This policy of discrimination and neglect promotes Israel's interest in maintaining a Jewish majority in the city while pushing out Palestinian residents of Jerusalem. Moreover, Israel aids settlers who move into East Jerusalem and even promotes the expansion of their takeover of homes and neighborhoods in this area.

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