Israeli authorities have allocated just 8.5 per cent of Jerusalem for Palestinian development, according to a new joint report by Israeli NGOs Ir Amim and Bimkom.
“Deliberately Planned: A Policy to Thwart Planning in the Palestinian Neighbourhoods of Jerusalem” details how Israeli authorities “deliberately delay and ultimately undermine the approval of plans that would actually allow for construction in the Palestinian neighbourhoods of Jerusalem”.
Since 1967, when Israel’s military occupation of the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) began, Israel has expropriated more than 38 percent of East Jerusalem to build settlements. Israel illegally annexed occupied East Jerusalem, a move not recognised by the international community.
While Palestinians constitute 37 per cent of Jerusalem’s residents, only 15 per cent of East Jerusalem – and 8.5 per cent of the whole city – has been allocated for Palestinian development.
Ir Amim and Bimkom focus on three case studies in East Jerusalem that, they say, “evidence how urban planning is used to deliberately suppress the growth and development of the Palestinian community in service to demographic objectives”.
While the Israeli authorities claim that home demolitions are simply a matter of upholding the law, the same authorities “do everything within their power to delay the process and ultimately thwart any detailed plan of significant scale, effectively preventing lawful construction by Palestinians”.
According to the two NGOs, “plans prepared for the Palestinian neighbourhoods of East Jerusalem attest to politically motivated discrimination in line with the state’s overriding policy objective of maintaining the demographic balance in the city”.
Since the beginning of 2009, detailed outline plans allowing for approximately 10,000 housing units have been approved for Israeli settlements in occupied East Jerusalem.
“By contrast”, the report notes, “only minor detailed plans in the range of hundreds of housing units have been approved in the Palestinian neighbourhoods”, and “no broader outline plans have been approved for these neighbourhoods”.
In recent years Israeli authorities have granted only eight per cent of building permits for housing units in Jerusalem to the Palestinian neighbourhoods. In parallel, demolitions have recently begun to spike – in 2016, Israeli authorities demolished 123 housing units in East Jerusalem.