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Jerusalemites face relentless Israeli economic war

RAMALLAH, WEST BANK - MAY 01: Palestinian people do shopping ahead of the Eid Al-Fitr at Ramallah City Bazaar in Ramallah, West Bank on May 01, 2022. ( Issam Rimawi - Anadolu Agency )
Palestinian people do shopping ahead of the Eid Al-Fitr at Ramallah City Bazaar in Ramallah, West Bank on May 01, 2022 [Issam Rimawi - Anadolu Agency]

Palestinians living in Jerusalem have been facing relentless Israeli economic war consisting of oppressive high taxes targeting traders and shopkeepers amidst very weak markets.

Israeli occupation authorities are putting pressure on the Jerusalemites through imposing high taxes in order to force them out of the holy city, leaving their shops and homes as spoils for Israeli municipality of Jerusalem.

The most notorious Israeli tax is the Arnona –a local property tax paid by each household or shops to the municipality of Jerusalem. However, the Palestinians make up 35 per cent of the current residents of the holy city and the Jewish residents make up 65 per cent, according to Safa news agency, the Israeli municipality of Jerusalem collects 33 per cent of its total income from the Palestinian residents.

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The Arnona for Palestinians in Jerusalem is that every Palestinian shopkeeper must pay $100 per each square metre of the area of his shop.

Meanwhile, Safa said that the Israeli occupation authorities, which imposes high taxes on the Palestinians, pays much grants for the Jews in order to facilitate their existence in the holy city.

Due to the repeated closures resulting from the COVID-19 and the deteriorated security situation in the city, and the deterioration of the economic situation worldwide, the Palestinian traders were obliged to close their shops for long periods, thus they had very weak income and could not pay the taxes and they came under the hammer of the municipality, which is asking them to leave.

"The lack of financial support for the Jerusalemites, mainly traders and shopkeepers complicate the crisis in Jerusalem and undermine the persistence of the Jerusalemites," Ziyad Al Hammouri, Director of Al Quds Centre for Social and Economic Studies, told Safa.

Hammouri called for creating a fund to support the Jerusalemites against the economic war targeting them and seeking to force them out of the holy city. He noted that the share of Jerusalem in the Palestinian Authority (PA)'s budget is less than 1 per cent. "This proves a real marginalisation by the PA," Hammouri said.

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Official statistics reported by Safa revealed that 70 per cent constitutes the real estate and shop owners, as well as traders in Jerusalem, stressing that this would lead to expropriating the property by the Israeli municipality due to accumulation of debts.

Safa said that 250 Palestinian shops have been closed by the Israeli municipality over the accumulation of taxes, in addition to the commercial blockade imposed on Jerusalemites.

Israeli statistics have revealed that Jerusalem's municipality spends only 5 per cent out of the total budget on the Palestinians, despite the fact that they make up 35 per cent of the residents of the city.

To solve this problem, experts reported by Safa said that there should be special funds to support the Jerusalemites, including the residents, traders and real estate and shop owners to be able to face off the complicated Israeli measures.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

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