Israel’s occupation of Jerusalem has for all intents and purposes strangled its Arab population. The restrictive policies enforced in; construction, planning, land appropriation, investment in infrastructure and services are all geared to force the flight of Palestinians and realize the Judaisation of the city. Consequently, every aspect of Palestinian life has been blighted by neglect, discrimination and deprivation.
With the construction of the Apartheid Wall, and its isolation of Jerusalem from the West Bank, the local economy has virtually collapsed. Encouraged by the silence of its Arab neighbours and complicity of its European backers, Israel has in recent years intensified its efforts to divest Jerusalem of its Islamic character. It has pursued a deliberate, well organized and systematic campaign to change the religious and demographic character of the city.
On another level, the occupation seeks to establish a city that would rival Al Quds. Since the occupation began the Israelis seized almost one-third of the area of the Old City, which was owned by the Palestinian Arab population. Today, 180,000 Jewish settlers reside in east Jerusalem. By the end of 2009, the Arab population is estimated at 270,000.1
The suspension of negotiations on the status of the occupied city has given the occupation more time to expand its settlement and impose more realities on the ground. Although the future of Jerusalem would be one of the most important issues to be discussed in any final status negotiations, the Israeli authorities have been pressing ahead with measures to completely change the identity of the city before the negotiations begin. The city has enormous religious, political and national symbolic meaning for Muslims, Arabs and the Israelis.
Israel’s unilateral annexation of east Jerusalem contravenes international law and is not recognized by the international community. Hence successive UN Security Council and General Assembly resolutions have affirmed that all legislative and administrative measures taken by Israel to alter the character and status of Jerusalem, are null and void and must be rescinded. In spite of Israel’s claims, East Jerusalem is still regarded as part of the occupied Palestinian territory.