Confiscating Bread in EJ in Passover

Public Statement of Independent Union Center WAC MAAN

The confiscation of bread from Palestinian stands at Jaffa Gate is the tip of the iceberg of a policy of economic abuse of Palestinian East Jerusalemites, a policy with the ultimate objective of Judaizing Jerusalem and stripping the Palestinian residents of the city from their rights.

אריה קינג

On the evening of April 19, a day before Second Passover, the Palestinian owners of stands at Jaffa Gate, East Jerusalem, were surprised to find municipal inspectors raiding their stands and confiscating their goods, claiming to be enforcing the law banning the sale of chametz during Passover (chametz: leavened foods, forbidden for Jews during Passover.) This enforcement operation is particularly strange in light of the fact that the Municipality does not even strictly enforce the chametz ban on the city’s Jewish population.

Far-right activity and City Councilman Aryeh King indicated that he encouraged this operation. On his Facebook page, King, a member of City Council on behalf of the “United Jerusalem” list, wrote: “Thanks to the members of my Facebook page and intensive direct collaboration with the Jerusalem Municipal Inspection, the Municipality confiscated dozens of chametz sale stands placed in and around Jaffa Gate. We promised to take care of Judaizing Jerusalem and we are trying to live up to our obligations to the voters.” Only after criticism was voiced did the Municipality claim the stands were cleared not because of chametz sale, but because their owners had no license.

As King himself testifies, “Judaizing Jerusalem” means abusing the Palestinian residents of the city and harming their livelihoods. According to the Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies’ Statistical Yearbook 2013, 79.5% of Palestinian East Jerusalem residents live below the poverty line; the income of Palestinians living below the poverty line in East Jerusalem is 50% lower than that of the Jewish population below the poverty line; 85% of East Jerusalem children live below the poverty line. The result is massive emigration of the Palestinian population. The same residents who cannot survive in the center of East Jerusalem are forced to move to the areas outside the fence – Shuafat and Kafr ‘Aqab. Housing is cheaper there, but the Municipality refuses to provide these neighborhoods with basic municipal services such as emergency services, sanitation, education, and running water.

The extreme poverty and neglect are not predestination, but a longstanding policy. WAC MAAN operates a branch in East Jerusalem to help residents make the most of their rights when facing the government and the Municipality, and we bear witness to this policy and its outcomes. WAC MAAN calls for an end to the economic abuse of the East Jerusalem Palestinian population and the attempts to strip residents of their rights.

אודות Erez Wagner