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Human Rights Watch: Pence ignored ‘entrenched discrimination’ against Palestinians

People come together to protest against the visit of US Vice President Mike Pence to Israel

Human Rights Watch accused US Vice President Mike Pence of ignoring “entrenched discrimination” facing Palestinians in Israeli-occupied East Jerusalem, following Pence’s speech at the Israeli Knesset.

Responding Monday, Sarah Leah Whitson, executive director of the Middle East division of Human Rights Watch, said that while Pence “lauded Jerusalem’s pluralism”, he “unsurprisingly ignored entrenched discrimination against Jerusalem’s 330,000 Palestinian Christian and Muslim residents”.

“One cannot speak of safeguarding persecuted minorities in the region and turn a blind eye to Israel’s two-tiered system in Jerusalem”, she continued.

Noting how Palestinians make up 37% of the population of the Jerusalem municipality, including occupied East Jerusalem, Human Rights Watch noted how the Israeli government’s “master plan for the municipality explicitly lays out its goal of ‘maintaining a solid Jewish majority in the city’”.

In order “to accomplish this objective”, the statement continued, “Israel has illegally transferred thousands of own citizens to East Jerusalem, while refusing to approve most zoning plans in Palestinian neighbourhoods that would allow for natural growth”.

Read: Mike Pence begins Israel-leg of his Middle East tour

“Left with no choice but to build and expand their homes without permits, Palestinians live under threat of home demolitions”.

Human Rights Watch also accused Israeli authorities in Jerusalem of discriminating “in budget allocation between Palestinian and Jewish settler communities in East Jerusalem”, noting that in 2013, 10 per cent of Jerusalem’s municipal budget went for projects in Palestinian neighbourhoods.

“As a result, Palestinian neighbourhoods have infrastructural, health, recreation, and educational services that are far inferior to those in Jewish neighbourhoods. Israel also revoked the residency of at least 14,595 Jerusalemites since 1967, all of whom were Palestinian”, the press release concluded.

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