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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In 2007, the local Council for Planning and Construction in the City of Jerusalem approved the Master Plan known as “Jerusalem 2000.” In a stroke of realism, given the increase in the city’s Palestinian population, the Plan revised the earlier goal: the balance now sought for was to be 70% Jewish and 30% Arab. (As said above, the Arab proportion is now in fact 37%.) The Plan foresaw that the EJ Palestinians would require 34,000 new housing units by the year 2030. However, because of the demographic goal, it was decided to approve only 10,000 units by 2030.

“Jerusalem 2000” has not yet gone into effect, partly out of concern for its political repercussions. However, Ir Amim, a non-profit association, reports that already in 2013 a housing shortage of 10,000 units has been registered for the EJ Palestinians, and this shortage is expected to increase by 1500 units per year. This huge shortage has caused a dramatic rise in EJ housing prices, which fewer and fewer Palestinians can afford.

1.2. The Separation Barrier (SB)

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Map of Greater Jerusalem by Ir Amim. The red line marks the Separation Barrier (SB). The blue line is the municipal border.

Israel erected the SB from 2003–2006. It cuts through the Palestinian neighborhoods that Israel annexed in 1967. The SB here consists mainly of a concrete wall 8 meters high. The Palestinian neighborhoods Kafr ‘Aqab, Samir Amis, the Shuafat Refugee Camp, and new Anata are cut off by it from the urban contiguity of Jerusalem. As of 2006, these discarded neighborhoods held 60,000 Palestinians, and the number has grown considerably since then.

Despite the fact that the outside-SB neighborhoods are officially within Jerusalem’s boundaries, the Municipality refuses to supply them with basic services, such as emergency services, sanitation, welfare, and maintenance of the water- and electricity-infrastructures. For this lack it makes various excuses, such as the difficulty of crossing the SB, and in particular the claim that these neighborhoods contain another kind of infrastructure: terror.

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Wild, unsupervised construction beyond the Separation Barrier (SB) in Kafr ‘Aqab. Note SB wall. Photo from a tour by Ir Amim and WAC, May, 11, 2014

In the outside-SB Neighbor- hoods, the Municipality maintains no supervision whatsoever over construction, and so a door is opened to speculators and Palestinian contractors. They exploit the housing shortage that persists in the main part of EJ, inside the SB, and the lack of it outside the SB, in order to build high-rises, sometimes reaching 14 stories, without supervision and without the necessary infrastructure. These buildings can easily become death traps in fire or earthquake.

The water crisis in the outside-SB neighborhoods epitomizes the situation. The residents have long complained about extremely low water pressure or even no water at all for days at a stretch. The Israeli non-profit Association for Civil Rights petitioned the High Court on this issue; the municipal water company Ha-Gihon responded that the water infrastructure in the Shuafat camp is meant to serve 15,000 people, but between 60,000 and 80,000 live there, most of them in high-rises built without permits and connected illegally to the water infrastructure. When Palestinians in these neighborhoods seek to connect legally to the water supply (for they need to show receipts at the NII in order to maintain their status as Jerusalem residents), they are told that the water company cannot connect to a building constructed illegally. In this way the water company, like the Municipality, cynically uses the lack of supervision and the results thereof as an additional excuse for their refusal to build the necessary infrastructures.

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