The Jerusalem Human Rights Centre has said that authorities of the Israeli occupation have recently begun the implementation of a new policy affecting Jerusalemite inhabitants living in districts that have been cut off by the Apartheid Wall surrounding the occupied city.
In a report released today, the Jerusalem Centre for Social and Economic Rights highlighted that their legal department had recently received complaints from residents of these districts stating that when they went to the occupation's municipality in Jerusalem to obtain the 2011 list of Arnona tax fees, they were informed that they were no longer required to pay the tax and as such their request was refused by municipal officials.
The Research and Documentation Unit at the Centre quoted Omran al-Rashiq, a resident of "New Anata" or the al-Salam district, as saying: His family had lived in the suburb for more than thirty years and had always paid the Arnona Tax. What had happened a few days ago was that the municipality had informed him that they were now no longer required to pay the fees; however, no explanation had been given for this shift in policy. He highlighted the fact that the Arnona papers were one in a long list of documentation required by the Israeli Interior Ministry and had to be produced when conducting certain transactions. Mr al-Rashiq expressed fears that this development would lead to his family losing their rights to reside in Jerusalem.
The Jerusalem Centre has warned that this could be the preliminary step toward political procedures disclosed over a year ago by Yair Segev, a high-ranking official within the occupation's municipality in Jerusalem. He announced the municipality's intention to get rid of tens of thousands of Jerusalemites in districts cut off by the Wall such that the municipality would no longer have any need to continue to exercise its powers there meaning that it would definitively end its provision of public services to the residents of these districts.
The Centre drew a connection between the current procedures and the statements made by Segev who is the official in charge of the file on East Jerusalem. On January 7th, he stated that the Wall had been constructed for demographic reasons; to get rid of 55,000 Palestinian Jerusalemites in districts overseen by the municipality.
The Jerusalem Centre mentioned that its data indicates that the numbers of residents living in districts that have actually been cut off by the Wall is to be doubled and nearer to 125,000. The large majority of them are concentrated in the town of al-Ram and the district of al-Barid with others residing in Shu'fat Camp and al-Salam district in additions to large groups residing in the towns of Abu Dis, al-Eizaria and Bir Nabala.
According to the Jerusalem Centre, since the second al-Aqsa Intifada, a number of these Jerusalemite districts do not receive public services provided by the Israeli municipality to Jerusalem – or limited services – as is the case in districts such as Kfar Aqab and Samir Amis in the north Jerusalem. Here the municipality has suspended the allocated budget for these districts which used to pay for local committees formed by the municipality at the beginning of the Intifada which branched out into the opening of health centres as well as offices for national and internal insurance, among others. The objectives of this was to ensure that more residents of these districts do not move within the boundaries of a district which, over the last ten years, has seen the counter-return of hundreds of Jerusalemite families whose right of residence is threatened.
The Centre's Director, Zeyad El Hamouri, warned of the consequences of the municipality's recent actions aimed at acquitting itself of its obligations toward the inhabitants of these districts hinting that these steps will have serious repercussions on the residency rights of tens of thousands of these residents living in these districts as well as also having social and economic repercussions.
El Hamouri highlighted the significant recorded increase over the last three years in the number of Jerusalemites who have had their residency rights withdrawn. Since 1967, 14,466 Palestinian identity cards have been withdrawn; 4672 in 2008, 721 in 2009 and 191 in 2010.
Source: Jerusalem (Palestine) – Quds Press Service