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Sharp increase in poverty amongst Palestinians in Occupied East Jerusalem

June 22, 2016 at 12:16 pm

More than four in five Palestinian residents of Occupied East Jerusalem had incomes under the poverty line in 2014, four times the national poverty rate for Israel.

The data, presented in a report by the Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies and drawn from the Central Bureau of Statistics and the National Insurance Institute, shows a sharp increase in poverty levels amongst Palestinians in the city.

East Jerusalem was annexed by Israel in 1967, a move that has never been recognised by the international community, who views East Jerusalem, along with the West Bank and Gaza Strip, as remaining under Israeli military occupation.

The figure of 82 percent of East Jerusalem residents with incomes under the poverty line is more than half as high as the rate for Jerusalem as a whole (49 percent). The poverty rate among East Jerusalem children in 2014 was at 86.6 percent.

Analysing the data, Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz noted that the economic situation of Palestinians in East Jerusalem has “worsened dramatically” over the past decade; in 2006, the paper notes, “the poverty rate in East Jerusalem was only 66 percent – 16 percentage points lower.”

According to the paper, “the main reason for the deterioration was the construction of the separation fence, which cut Jerusalem off from the West Bank.” This caused “severe harm to businesses that relied on customers from the West Bank, and also raised the cost of living because there were no more cheap imports from the West Bank.”

In addition, “one out of every three workers in East Jerusalem lives in a neighbourhood outside the separation fence”, thus making it “very hard for them to work in the city.”

A further problem “is that over the past two years thousands of East Jerusalem residents have been arrested”, mostly people of working age. Being arrested “often leads to dismissal and makes it hard to find another job, since many employers won’t hire someone with a police record.”

The report states that at the end of 2014, Jerusalem’s population was 849,800 residents, of whom 315,900 (37 percent) were Palestinians. Less than 1 percent of the city’s Palestinians live in the city’s pre-1967 neighbourhoods.

In East Jerusalem, meanwhile, there were more than 200,000 Jewish residents of settlements established since 1967, 39 percent of the city’s total Jewish population.

The data also shows that in 2014, 5 percent of all apartments completed and 17 percent of all new construction were in Har Homa settlement, established just outside Bethlehem.