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Changing Demographics
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/ Categories: Jerusalem

Changing Demographics

Since 1967, the Israeli government has attempted to consolidate its control over Jerusalem by systematically pursuing a number of policies:

  • Establishing Settlements: 

Israel has unilaterally annexed occupied East Jerusalem and has been constructing illegal settlements within and along its illegally expanded borders. These settlements now form a ring around the entire occupied part of the city, sealing it off from the rest of the West Bank. Today, over 190,000 of the over 500,000 settlers in the oPt live in occupied East Jerusalem.

  • Revoking Residency Rights and Denying Family Reunification:

 Israel’s goal with respect to its policies in occupied East Jerusalem has been clearly and repeatedly stated to be the preservation of a Jewish demographic majority in Jerusalem. This goal was officially stated in a 1973 report by the inter-ministerial Committee to Examine the Rate of Development for Jerusalem. In this report the recommendation was made that the “demographic balance of Jews and Arabs must be maintained as it was at the end of 1972.” In an attempt to maintain this “demographic balance,” Israel has prohibited thousands of Palestinians from residing in the city of our birth by revoking our residency rights.

As “Permanent Residents” of Israel, Palestinian East Jerusalemites have disproportionate rights compared with Israeli citizens of the city. For example, Israel has the power to strip them of their residency solely at its discretion. Therefore, our residents of occupied East Jerusalem must maintain their “center of life” in East Jerusalem; otherwise they run the risk of losing their residency status. In addition to residency revocation, Israel habitually refuses to grant Palestinian spouses of non-Jerusalemites residency status, thereby preventing them from residing in Jerusalem and denying family unification.

More than 13,000 Palestinian “permanent resident” identification cards were revoked between 1967 and 2008, directly impacting more than 20 percent of our families in occupied East Jerusalem. Between 2006 and 2008, Israel revoked 4,577 Palestinian “permanent resident” identification cards.

  • Land Confiscation, Building Restrictions and Home Demolitions: 

In addition to preventing our urban growth by confiscating our lands and constructing settlements, Israel has adopted a series of discriminatory zoning policies intended to make it difficult for us to build on our land or to expand existing structures. As a result, we are only allowed to build and live on 13 percent of East Jerusalem. Further, permits to build within those areas are expensive and nearly impossible to obtain due to Israel’s restrictive and discriminatory measures and policies, thereby giving the Israeli government the ability to demolish homes where building, including expansion, was carried out without an Israeli permit.These discriminatory policies have also resulted in severe over-crowding in East Jerusalem, a situation which will only worsen as the population naturally expands. From 1967 until today, the Palestinian population of Israeli-defined municipal Jerusalem has grown from 68,600 to 300,000—an increase of 228 percent. By 2020, the number of Palestinians who hold Jerusalem residency cards is projected to be over 400,000 (based on a 3.4 percent average population growth rate).Estimates also indicate that since 1967, Israel has demolished more than 3,200 homes and other structures in East Jerusalem, including several historic and religious sites, such as the historic Moroccan Quarter in the Old City of Jerusalem. According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, Israeli authorities demolished 94 Palestinian homes in 2005, 83 in 2006, 78 in 2007, 87 in 2008 and 103 in 2009. In 2010, figures released by the UN’s displacement Working Group, 78 privately owned structures were demolished in East Jerusalem, including homes.

  • Imposing Closure:

Since March 1993, Israel has prohibited non-Jerusalemite Palestinians from entering the city unless they obtain an Israeli-issued permit, which is rarely granted. As such, over 4 million Palestinians are denied access to our holy places in Jerusalem, are prohibited from studying in East Jerusalem and are denied certain medical treatments that are only available in East Jerusalem hospitals.

  • Constructing the Wall:

The route of the Wall in and around occupied East Jerusalem splits the West Bank into two distinct areas and completely isolates occupied East Jerusalem from the rest of the West Bank.

It also limits the last available space for much needed Palestinian growth, while facilitating the construction and expansion of settlements. Furthermore, the Wall severs the national transportation axis that connects the West Bank with Jerusalem and has resulted in an influx of Palestinian Jerusalemites to the center of the city.

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