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What's happening in East Jerusalem?

Updated: Apr 22, 2023

Shortly after the occupation of East Jerusalem in June 1967, Israel annexed east Jerusalem and incorporated the eastern and the western neighborhoods under one municipality. The new Palestinian residents received permanent residency status, which broadly meant all citizenship rights except the right to vote for the Knesset. These rights were not realized. In practice there are two statuses in Jerusalem today: Palestinian residents and Israeli citizens, with the Palestinians disadvantaged in all aspects. A high percentage of Palestinians in the city live below poverty line, cannot get construction permits, have no access to proper education, and more.


In the last fifty-five years since annexation, only a handful of construction permits in the various eastern neighborhoods were approved, and in the absence of a Master Plan, it is impossible to submit applications for such a permit even on private lands. The Palestinian residents got together and raised funds to create a Master Plan, but the municipality undermined the process.


Al-Walajah, partly under the jurisdiction of the Bethlehem District and partly under the Jerusalem Municipality, has always been an agricultural village. The area under the jurisdiction of Jerusalem was intended to expand the Jewish neighborhoods in the area. Therefor the official reason for preventing construction in the village is "the preservation of traditional agriculture". That is, the source of livelihood of the villagers is the reason the authorities use to block construction. After a long and difficult struggle, the Israeli Supreme Court issued a ruling allowing the villagers to continue with the Master Plan process. However, since not all the houses were included in the Master Plan process, they are subject to massive demolition.

Jabel Mukaber:

Several protests were held near the city town hall to try to stop demolition of houses in the neighborhood, some of which are home to a large number of families. In the past, the residents and the municipality reached an agreement to create a Master Plan that would allow high-density construction as in the Jewish neighborhoods, but the municipality withdrew from the agreement. Recently, the municipality demolished several houses in the neighborhood. Many areas were expropriated over the years for the construction of a Jewish neighborhood and the separation wall. Large parts of the remaining area were declared as "green areas".

Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan:

Jews lived in Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan alongside Palestinians during the Ottoman rule and the British mandate and vacated their homes before the creation of the State of Israel. Before leaving, many sold their homes to Palestinians. After the 1948 war, the Jordanian government housed Palestinian refugees from the western neighborhoods of Jerusalem and the surrounding destroyed villages in these houses. Today, Israeli law allows descendants of Jewish families who left the neighborhood to get their properties back and Jewish endowments to claim lands which they owned before the 1948 war, but Palestinian refugees who owned homes or lands within the 1949 armistice borders cannot, according to the infamous Absentees' Property Law, return to their homes.

As a result, Palestinian residents are being expelled from their homes and Jews are moving in instead. Many are awaiting deportation and are waging an exhausting legal battle to stop it.

Israel Nature and Parks Authority and the Israel Antiquities Authority

Another common way to seize Palestinian lands in East Jerusalem is by turning them into nature reserves or antiquities sites. Last year, Israel confiscated farmland in Silwan and an agricultural farm on privately owned Palestinian land in the Ben Hinnom Valley, which borders the neighborhoods of west Jerusalem. During the last olive harvest, the Israeli authorities blocked access to the olive groves, and confiscated the olives. Olives and olive oil are a significant source of income for the owners of the confiscated land. The authorities also declared the land next to the Shiloah pool as an antiquities site and blocked any agricultural work.

Infrastructure and services

The Jerusalem Municipality neglects all East Jerusalem neighborhoods. Garbage is hardly disposed of, there are no plans for roads renovation or new access roads, and the sewage system is out of order or does not exist at all. The education system lacks about three thousand and five hundred classes, over forty-thousand children are not registered in the system at all, and about three thousand students drop out of the system each year. Recently the authorities prevented the Parents' Council from holding a meeting to discuss the crisis in the education system, with the claim that the Palestinian Authorities fund them.


The above is a partial overview of what is happening in the various neighborhoods of East Jerusalem. Jerusalem is presented as unified but in reality it is completely divided. The residents of East Jerusalem are equal in duties but not in rights. It seems that the path to cleansing east Jerusalem goes through denying rights and creating despair to cause "voluntary" evacuation. progressing toward Judaization of the entire city.

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