Coalition for Jerusalem - Publications

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

EU Report on East Jerusalem



1. East Jerusalem is of central importance to the Palestinians in political, economic, social and religious terms. Several inter-linked Israeli policies are reducing the possibility of reaching a final status agreement on Jerusalem, and demonstrate a clear Israeli intention to turn the annexation of East Jerusalem into a concrete fact:

- the near-completion of the barrier around east Jerusalem, far from the Green Line;
- the construction and expansion of illegal settlements, by private entities and the Israeli government, in and around East Jerusalem;
- the demolition of Palestinian homes built without permits (which are all but unobtainable);
- stricter enforcement of rules separating Palestinians resident in East Jerusalem from those resident in the West Bank, including a reduction of working permits;
- and discriminatory taxation, expenditure and building permit policy by the Jerusalem municipality.

2. The plan to expand the settlement of Ma’aleh Adumim into the so-called “E1” area, east of Jerusalem, threatens to complete the encircling of the city by Jewish settlements, dividing the West Bank into two separate geographical areas. The proposed extension of the barrier from East Jerusalem to form a bubble around the settlement of Ma’aleh Adumim would have the same effect. 2004 saw a near tripling of the number of Palestinian buildings demolished in East Jerusalem. We expect a similar number of demolitions in 2005. 88 homes in the Silwan neighbourhood with demolition orders outstanding against them attracted much attention in June.

3. When the barrier has been completed, Israel will control access to and from East Jerusalem, cutting off its Palestinian satellite cities of Bethlehem and Ramallah, and the rest of the West Bank beyond. This will have serious economic, social and humanitarian consequences for the Palestinians. By vigorously applying policies on residency and ID status, Israel will be able finally to complete the isolation of East Jerusalem – the political, social, commercial and infrastructural centre of Palestinian life.

4. Israel’s activities in Jerusalem are in violation of both its Roadmap obligations and international law. We and others in the international community have made our concerns clear on numerous occasions, to varying effect.

Palestinians are, without exception, deeply alarmed about East Jerusalem. They fear that Israel will “get away with it”, under the cover of disengagement. Israeli actions also risk radicalising the hitherto relatively quiescent Palestinian population in East Jerusalem. Clear statements by the European Union and the Quartet that Jerusalem remains an issue for negotiation by the two sides, and that Israel should desist from all measures designed to pre-empt such negotiations, would be timely. We should also support Palestinian cultural, political and economic activities in East Jerusalem.


On the political level

1- Clear statements by the European Union and the Quartet that Jerusalem remains an issue for negotiation by the two sides, and that Israel should desist from all measures designed to pre-empt such negotiations.

2- We might consider issuing a statement focused on the issue of Jerusalem at the GAERC in November. We could also press for a similar statement to issue from the Quartet.

3- Phase One of the Roadmap calls for the re-opening of Palestinian institutions in East Jerusalem, and in particular the Chamber of Commerce. The re-opening of these institutions would send a signal to the Palestinians that the international community takes their concerns seriously, and is taking action. We might include a call for their re-opening in the statements referred to above, and explore with the two parties how and when their re-opening might be accomplished.

4- Request the Israeli Government to halt discriminatory treatment of Palestinians in East Jerusalem, especially concerning working permits, building permits, house demolitions, taxation and expenditure.

5- The EU might consider and assess the implications and feasibility of excluding East Jerusalem from certain EU/Israel co-operation activities.

On an operational level

1- Organise political meetings with the PA in East Jerusalem, including meetings at ministerial level.

2- Initiatives (statement letters, contacts, meetings etc.) focused on issues like access, building permits, the consequences of the barrier etc.

3- In view of the Palestinian legislative elections scheduled for 25 January 2006, encourage the parties to agree on the terms and substance of their co-ordination to allow for satisfactory elections to take place in East Jerusalem, referring to the parties’ obligations under the interim agreements and the Roadmap (PA to hold elections and Israel to facilitate them) and taking into account the recommendations formulated in the Rocard EUEOM report. Offer 3rd party technical assistance and monitoring capacity if required and adequate.

4- The Jerusalem Masterplan that is currently in the approval process should undergo a technical assessment followed by a decision as to how to evaluate the plan in terms of legal implications, public awareness etc. The plan currently exists only in Hebrew (the plan should be translated into Arabic and English).

5- All MS and EC to increase project activity in East Jerusalem with a balance between service provision, relief, development and political projects (taking into consideration the Multi Sector Review). Support for civil society is important. An inventory of current EC and MS activity in East Jerusalem would be a useful first step.

6- Regarding house demolitions for lack of building permits in East Jerusalem, the EU could pursue various options:

- support legal projects designed to support Palestinians threatened by house demolitions and those who have been victims thereof
- promote initiatives to legalise “illegal” houses (e.g. through introducing retroactively alternative town planning schemes)
- facilitate a solution for obtaining building permits
- EU projects with a Palestinian NGO on legal counselling concerning building permits and house demolitions
- EU project on the development of a master plan for urban planning and legal housing for Palestinian neighbourhoods in East Jerusalem.

7- Facilitate a solution of the access issue. This would comprise a range of political and operational measures, both short and long term

8- Support local and international organisations in their information efforts on East Jerusalem.

9- Enhance EU assistance to Palestinian institutions in East Jerusalem, including cultural activities and community empowerment.

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