Israeli officials are in disagreement over a plan to cut off Palestinians in Jerusalem by installing a separate municipality for the city’s non-Jewish residents.
The plan to cut off Palestinian neighbourhoods located behind the illegal Separation Wall is being promoted by Jerusalem Affairs and Heritage Minister Ze’ev Elkin. He suggested that the establishment of a separate municipal entity to govern these areas would enable Israel to tackle the demographic threat posed by Jerusalem’s non-Jewish communities.
Elkin, according to the Jerusalem Post, holds the view that these neighbourhoods are wide open to the West Bank but are still a part of the capital and attract non-Israeli Palestinians – which leads to mixed marriages – it poses a demographic challenge for the Jewish majority in the city.
Israeli sources also reported that a plan advanced by Elkin to separate East Jerusalem neighbourhoods located beyond the security barrier has gained steam and moved from the legislative phase to the planning phase. It is likely to create another layer of discrimination against Palestinians and could see as many as 150,000 people living under a two-tier system with many services and provisions denied to the non-Jewish residents of Jerusalem.
Israel already has a number of laws that entrench racial segregation in the country. For example Israeli courts granted legal legitimacy to Jewish only Admissions Committees to be able to reject persons residing in an area based on nationality and race. More than 434 small communities in rural towns with control over 43 per cent of residential areas can reject Palestinian citizens of Israel and other marginalised groups from residing in them on the basis that they are “unsuitable” for Jewish communities.
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat has opposed the plan, opting instead to give his backing for a plan that would seek to attract more settlers in the occupied city instead of separating Jerusalem due to concerns over the demographic threat posed by Palestinians.
Elkin appears to prefer a more immediate solution, although he too suggested last week plans for a million more settlers to be moved into the West Bank. The Israeli minster further dismissed the idea of a Palestinian state in the occupied Palestinian territory, while giving his backing for the plan saying that “there is no other option but the state of Israel, certainly between the Jordan [River] to the [Mediterranean] sea there will be one state.”
Elkin’s proposal appears identical to Tel Aviv’s creation of two separate municipalities in Occupied Hebron in September. The decision, according to critics “formalises the system of apartheid in the city and could potentially lead to new projects and budget transfers to the Hebron settlers.”