Sunday, 31 December 2017

East Jerusalem is part of the Occupied Palestinian Territory

East  Jerusalem  is  part  of  the  Occupied   Palestinian   Territory   (OPT), and therefore the law of belligerent occupation is the applicable legal framework. Israel, however, extended its national laws to East Jerusalem that established its de facto  illegal  annexation  and  forced  the  category of ‘permanent residents of Israel’ on Palestinians in East Jerusalem. By doing so, it has been able to implement  measures  that  are  unique  to  East Jerusalem and the Palestinians who reside there in order to serve its broader objective of imposing Jerusalem as a capital for Israel.3

Accordingly, the nearly 300,000 Palestinians in East Jerusalem are vulnerable and targeted. Seventy-five percent live below the poverty line as a result of various discriminatory policies relating to the right to housing, education,

and equal employment opportunities, amongst others.4 While Israel encourages and accelerates the expansion of Jewish settlement activities   in East Jerusalem, including by a 2015 Israeli High Court of Justice (HCJ) decision regarding the Absentee Property Law,5  it imposes on Palestinians   a discriminatory planning and licensing permit system which leads to substandard living conditions. The physical results of this system are visible across East Jerusalem with dilapidated and inadequate infrastructure,  home demolitions,6 and displacement. Palestinians are often forced to self- demolish in order to minimize exorbitant fines.7 Between January 1 and August 31, 2015 alone, 37 structures were demolished in East Jerusalem due to the absence of a building license, displacing 57 individuals.8 According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), at least one-third of Palestinian homes lack building permits, consequently putting over 90,000 individuals at risk  of  displacement.9  Poor  living  conditions  are exacerbated by the deficient provision of services, ranging from lack    of garbage collection to Israel’s failure to provide sufficient classrooms for Palestinian children. 

Intensifying the situation is Israel’s policy of fragmentation. East Jerusalem is not only isolated from the rest of the West Bank, but Palestinian neighborhoods in East Jerusalem are cut off from each other by checkpoints, the Annexation Wall, settlements and other barriers.11 Further, Israel regularly seals off these areas as a form of collective punishment. Limitations on movement and access extend to arbitrary restrictions on Palestinian Muslim and Christian holy sites, including during religious holidays. While recent attacks on Al-Aqsa Mosque Compound are considered as a spark for the current unrest, they are a routine part of Israel’s Jerusalem policy.12

Palestinian Jerusalemites suffer these intolerable conditions in order to maintain their residency and access to the city of their birth. Even when these conditions are endured, threats of residency revocation by means     of Israel’s “center of life” policy,13 restrictive family unification, and other measures remain. Israel also uses other arbitrary actions resulting in forcible displacement from individual homes coupled with travel bans. Some Palestinians have received orders temporarily banning them from Jerusalem, where they were born and live. 14 Others have even been banned from being in the West Bank more broadly by Israeli authorities, essentially requiring relocation to Israel.


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