East Jerusalem – A Socioeconomic Disaster:

<p>The National Insurance Institute and the Employment Bureau serve a government policy to push Palestinians beyond the wall and “enhance Israeli sovereignty”</p>
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The National Insurance Institute and the Employment Bureau serve a government policy to push Palestinians beyond the wall and “enhance Israeli sovereignty”

The report in PDF

Participated in the writing of this report: Aya Bartenstein Adv, Erez Wagner.


In occupied East Jerusalem (EJ) reside 300,200 Palestinians, 37% of Jerusalem’s population. Of them, 77% are beneath the poverty line (according to figures of Israel’s National Insurance Institute). The Separation Barrier (SB), which runs through EJ, cuts whole neighborhoods off from municipal services. On the side of the SB that does get services, there is a severe housing shortage, and on the side that doesn’t, construction is wild and unsupervised. This reality has brought the outside-SB neighborhoods to the brink of a humanitarian catastrophe. An earthquake could take down the many high-rises built in Shuafat Refugee Camp and Kafr ‘Aqab. The water crisis there, because of inadequate infrastructure, is likely to worsen. Another incident of nationalistic violence could ignite the streets, as happened in July. All factors point to disaster.

This situation is not accidental. It is rather the outcome of a declared government policy to push the Palestinian Jerusalemites beyond the borders of the neighborhoods that Israel annexed in 1967.

This report surveys this policy and some of its implementations. After dealing with the policy in general, it focuses on the ways in which the National Insurance Institute (NII, in Hebrew called Bituach Leumi) and the Employment Bureau (EB) blatantly disregard the economic deterioration of EJ Palestinians.

The report assembles many sources of data, using publications of the State of Israel as well as data collected throughout the past year by the Workers Advice Center (WAC-MAAN, hereafter WAC). The latter includes data arising from many complaints against the institutions charged with laying out the social safety net, especially the EB and the NII.

A WAC branch has been operating in occupied EJ since the year 2000 in unionization, providing legal aid, and helping Palestinians achieve their rights over against Israeli employers, the NII, and the EB. WAC follows the socioeconomic processes in EJ, informed by a concern from the residents’ well-being and with an understanding that these are processes affected by the diplomatic and political situation.

1. Government policy

1.1. Preserving a Jewish majority in Jerusalem: the Master Plan “Jerusalem 2000” and the creation of the housing crisis in EJ.

Ever since the occupation and annexation of EJ in 1967, Israel has struggled to keep the city united and Jewish. Already in the Master Plan of 1968 it was recommended to spur Jewish population growth significantly. In 1973, the then Prime Minister, Golda Meir, created the Gafni Commission to oversee the rate of development in Jerusalem. The Commission recommended that the Jewish population of the city be increased 3.7% by 1982, in order to keep the ratio of Jews and Arabs there the same as what it was in 1972, namely, 73.5% Jewish and 25.5% Arab. The Commission thus established a demographic goal that became a government decision, which has been reconfirmed by subsequent Israeli governments.

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