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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1.3. A new government program for Jerusalem

On 29 June, 2014, just before a round of violence ignited the Palestinian neighborhoods, the Israeli government launched the “Program to Increase Personal Safety and Socioeconomic Development in Jerusalem for the Benefit of all Inhabitants,” costing 295 million NIS, to be spread over five years.

The program title is Orwellian. In practice, it does not address development, and it is not for the benefit of all inhabitants. An examination of the details reveals the true aims behind this whitewashing language, which are declared outright in the statement of the program’s focus: “Strengthening Israeli sovereignty in the territories of East Jerusalem.”

We get another indication of the program’s real aims when we look at the parties responsible for its implementation: The responsible government ministry is the Ministry of Jerusalem and Diaspora Affairs, headed by Naftali Bennett, chairman of the right-wing party “Ha Ba’it Hayehudi” (“The Jewish Home”), which was elected to the Knesset on the basis of a proposal to annex the entire West Bank to Israel. Appointed to implement the municipal program is Mr. Dvir Kahane, former chairman of Elad, an association promoting the Judaization of Jerusalem through Jewish settlement in Palestinian neighborhoods.

Another sign of the program’s aim is its budget allocation. Out of the total 295 million NIS, the amount of 95 million NIS will go to ‘increasing criminal enforcement efforts,’ which translates into ‘strengthening enforcement for stone-throwing infractions.’ Not a single shekel will be used to stop the rise in Jewish nationalist hate crimes, such as the recent murder of the Palestinian teenager Muhammed Abu Khdeir. Nor will a shekel go to stemming other forms of delinquent criminality washing over the area.

The government claimed to recognize the fact that in order to eliminate stone-throwing, it would have to invest in the development of EJ. The rest of the budget – 200 million NIS – is supposedly earmarked for this. Of the amount, 100 million NIS has been allotted to infrastructure. But this amount includes street lighting around sites holy to Jews, security cameras on the streets, a better appearance, and cosmetic improvements that do nothing to improve the harsh circumstances of EJ’s Palestinians.

An Ir Amim report [Hebrew] shows clearly that the new program focuses on reinforcing Israeli elements in EJ. In education, for example—contrary to the Oslo Accords as well as international law—the program seeks to direct Palestinian secondary school pupils into taking Israel’s matriculation exams rather than the Palestinian equivalent. It does nothing to address the shortage of hundreds of classrooms in EJ (as determined by the Israeli courts).

On the issue of employment, the development part of the budget allocates 47 million NIS. This is a pittance. If the government would take on the task of raising the percentage of Palestinian women participating in the EJ labor market, today 14%, to match the level of Arab women’s participation in the national labour market, currently a meager 27%, it would have to create 20,000 workplaces and train 20,000 women – an investment of approximately one billion shekels per annum. The program’s actual investment of 47 million NIS across five years is a sham. It cannot achieve any real change beyond showcasing Israeli sovereignty.

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