Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Revealed: What a partitioned Jerusalem would look like

An Israeli firm has been working for 10 years to perfect plans that would transform the city's 'natural' urban boundaries into a border between two future countries, in a nonthreatening and aesthetic manner.

By Nir Hasson | May 27, 2014 | 1:09 PM | Haaretz

Almost since Jerusalem was reunited after the Six-Day War 47 years ago – an event being commemorated today, Jerusalem Day – various ideas have been proposed as to how the city can be redivided. Possible partition lines were drawn during peace talks at Camp David and Taba in 2000-2001, in U.S. President Bill Clinton’s Oval Office and in the bureaus of former Prime Ministers Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert.

But for the most part, these discussions ended with drawing lines on a map and debate over how to apportion sovereignty to the sites in the area known as the Holy Basin, which includes the Old City and its immediate surroundings.

Very few, if any, sought to figure out whether Jerusalem could actually be divided again – and if so, how would the border look? Would a wall be built in the heart of the city? Where would the crossing points be, and who would be able to use them? What would become of the network of roads and the public transportation system in the area? And so on and so forth.

Click here for the interactive map or see this page.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

East Jerusalem neighborhoods cut off from water supply since early March 2014

B'tselem reports on the water situation for Palestinians for several neighborhoods in Jerusalem on the other side of the Separation Wall:
Serious neglect of neighborhoods cut off by Separation Barrier: 3 month without regular running water 
Published:  27 May 2014 
In early March 2014 Hagihon, Jerusalem’s water utility company, stopped the regular supply of running water to several neighborhoods in north-east Jerusalem, namely: Shu’fat Refugee Camp, Ras Khamis, Ras Sh’hadeh and Dahiyat a-Salam (literally: Neighborhood of Peace), which have all been isolated from the rest of Jerusalem by the Separation Barrier. Some homes in these neighborhoods have been completely cut off from the water supply; others receive water intermittently; and as for the rest, the water pressure in the pipes is so low that the water does not reach the faucets. As a result, an estimated 60,000-80,000 Palestinians – mostly permanent residents of Israel – have been left without a regular water supply. The residents spent three weeks in making repeated applications to Hagihon and to the Jerusalem Municipality, seeking to have running water restored. When their requests went unheeded, on 25 March 2013, ACRI petitioned the High Court of Justice seeking to have the water supply renewed without delay.
The fact that tens of thousands of people have been cut off from the water system is but another outcome of the severe and ongoing neglect of the residents of Jerusalem neighborhoods separated by the Separation Barrier from the rest of East Jerusalem. The construction of the barrier and the isolation of these neighborhoods have led to a state of neglect even more severe than that endured by east Jerusalem neighborhoods for decades. 
On 2 April 2014 the Court instructed the State to respond to ACRI’s petition within 60 days, setting the deadline for the first week of June. In the meantime, the residents of these neighborhoods have no regular running water. 
For further information on ACRI’s website, click here

Monday, May 26, 2014

Pope Lays Wreath at Tomb of Zionism’s Founder

New York Times


JERUSALEM — A conflict largely defined by dueling narratives became a battle of competing imagery during Pope Francis’ sojourn through the Holy Land, with Palestinians and Israelis both seizing on the pontiff’s strong symbolic gestures to promote their perspectives.

A day after a photograph of Francis touching his forehead to the graffiti-scarred concrete barrier separating Bethlehem from Jerusalem rocketed around the Internet, the pope acceded to Israel’s request that he add to his packed Monday morning another unscheduled stop, at the Mount Herzl memorial to victims of terrorist attacks. There, too, Francis bowed his head, while pressing a hand to one of 78 tablets listing the names of the fallen.

“I explained to the pope that building the security fence prevented many more victims that Palestinian terror — which continues today — planned to harm,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel said afterward. Later, he added, “I long for the day in which Pope Francis’ call to recognize the state of Israel, the right of Jews to a state of their own, to live in security and peace, will be accepted by our neighbors.”

That was just one of the poignant photo opportunities of the pope at some of Judaism’s most sacred sites. He placed a note with the prayer “Our Father” handwritten in Spanish between the ancient stones of the Western Wall. He kissed the hands of six survivors — one saved as a baby by a Catholic family — at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial. He became the first Vatican leader to lay a wreath of signature yellow and white flowers on the tomb of Theodor Herzl, the founder of modern Zionism.

Pope, in Mideast, Invites Leaders to Meet on Peace

New York Times


JERUSALEM — Pope Francis inserted himself directly into the collapsed Middle East peace process on Sunday, issuing an invitation to host the Israeli and Palestinian presidents for a prayer summit meeting at his apartment in the Vatican, in an overture that has again underscored the broad ambitions of his papacy.

Francis took the unexpected step in Bethlehem, where he became the first pontiff ever to fly directly into the West Bank and to refer to the Israeli-occupied territory as the “State of Palestine.”

After describing the overall situation between Israel and the Palestinians as “increasingly unacceptable,” the pope made a dramatic, unscheduled stop at Israel’s contentious concrete barrier separating Bethlehem from Jerusalem, where he prayed and touched his head against the graffiti-covered wall.

“There is a need to intensify efforts and initiatives aimed at creating the conditions for a stable peace based on justice, on the recognition of rights for every individual, and on mutual security,” Francis said. Peace “must resolutely be pursued, even if each side has to make certain sacrifices.”

Presidents Shimon Peres of Israel and Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority accepted the pope’s invitation to pray together; Mr. Abbas’s spokesman said the meeting would take place June 6.

ACRI Report: ‘Poverty, blight and neglect’ in east Jerusalem

By Lidar Gravé-Lazi

Jerusalem Post

According to the report, only six percent of east Jerusalem children attend public preschools, despite being entitled to a free education.

More than three quarters of the residents of Jerusalem’s Arab neighborhoods – 75.3 percent of the total and 82.2 percent of children – live below the poverty line, according to a report released by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) on Monday.

The annual Facts and Figures Report, released ahead of Jerusalem Day, surveyed the situation in eastern Jerusalem and found “a frightening picture of poverty, blight, and neglect.”

According to the report, the area’s population comprises slightly more than one third of the city’s residents, while only 14 percent is zoned for residential construction.

The report also stated that, since 1967, one third of all Arab-owned land in Jerusalem was “confiscated” and used to build tens of thousands of homes for Jewish residents. In addition, some 35% of zoned areas in Arab neighborhoods were designated as “open landscape areas” upon which it is forbidden to build.

The report also cited “difficulties” with regard to fresh water access and a “dire shortage” of some 50 kilometers of sewerage pipes in the eastern part of the capital. “In the absence of appropriate sewerage, the residents are forced to use septic tanks that repeatedly flood, resulting in a host of public hazards,” the report stated.

With regard to the construction of 142 km of the security barrier, the report cited that “the closure of checkpoints and a policy of requiring entry permits have cut east Jerusalem off from the rest of the West Bank and led to a weakening in the social and economic conditions of residents.”

According to the report, more than 100,000 residents of the neighborhoods of Ras Khamis, Ras Shahada, Dahyat a-Salam, the Shuafat refugee camp, Kafr Aqeb, and Samiramis were cut off from the rest of Jerusalem by the barrier, and have “suffered from abject neglect ever since.”

“Despite the fact that the neighborhoods are located within the municipal boundaries of Jerusalem in an area that was annexed by the State of Israel, they do not receive even the most basic services. There are only three schools operating in the area; there is no garbage collection; no playgrounds, street lamps, or sidewalks; many roads are unpaved or not maintained, and public transportation is sparse,” the report stated.

With regard to education, the report stated that only 53 percent of Palestinian students attend public schools, in part due to a shortage of more than 2,000 classrooms. The report also noted that while all children over the age of three are entitled to a free education, only six percent of east Jerusalem children between the ages of three and four attend public preschools, due to a shortage of some 400 classrooms.

Source: ACRI Report: Poverty, blight, and neglect in East Jerusalem

Jerusalem Institute Statistical Abstract


Data of the Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies 
on the occasion of Jerusalem Day 2014 

Population as of the end of 2012
▪ In 2012 the population of Jerusalem totaled some 815,300 inhabitants of which 515,200 (63%) were Jews and others (non-Arabs) and 300,200 (37%) Arabs.

▪ Since 1967, the population of Jerusalem has tripled, climbing from 266,300 inhabitants in 1967 to 815,300 inhabitants in 2012. The Jewish population grew by a factor of 2.6 while the Arab population grew by a factor of 4.4.

▪ Population distribution based on religion: Jews 502,830 (62%), Muslims 288,170 (35%), Christians 14,800 (2%) out of which approximately 12,000 were Christian Arabs, others with no religious attribution (1%).

▪ In 2012, the population of Jerusalem increased by 1.5% (12,400 inhabitants): The Jewish population grew by 0.9% (4,700) while the Arab population grew by 2.6% (7,650). These data indicate that the growth of the Arab population is higher than that of the Jewish population, both in relative and absolute terms.

▪ In 2012 Jerusalem's population grew by 1.5%, the lowest recorded rate of growth over the previous 15 years. Four years during this period (2000, 2002, 2008, 2009) saw a low growth rate of 1.6%-1.7% while in the remainder of years the growth rate was 1.9%-2.1%. Jerusalem's growth rate is higher than that of Haifa and Rishon LeZion (1.0%) and somewhat higher than that of Tel Aviv (1.4%).

▪ The growth rate of the Jewish population in 2012 stood at 0.9%, lower in comparison with previous years. During this period only four years (2000, 2002, 2008, 2009) saw a low growth rate of 0.9%-1.0% while in the remainder of years the growth rate was 1.1%-1.4%.

▪ The growth rate of the Arab population in 2012 stood at 2.6%. During this period only two years (2009, 2010) saw a low growth rate of 2.9% while in the remainder of years the growth rate was 3.0%-4.0%. Generally speaking, there is a discernible drop in the growth rate of the Arab population in Jerusalem.

Mass on Mount Zion Stirs Ancient Rivalries

May 27, 2014

JERUSALEM — The intimate Mass celebrated by Pope Francis on Monday in the Cenacle, the hall on Jerusalem’s Mount Zion venerated by Christians as the room of the Last Supper, capped a Holy Land pilgrimage meant to promote peace and tolerance.

But ancient rivalries lurk just beneath the flagstones here, and the pope’s visit has brought them to the surface. Also holy to Jews and Muslims as the traditional burial place of the biblical King David, a prophet in Islam, Mount Zion has become a crucible of competing religious claims that touch on one of the most sensitive issues in the Middle East conflict.

“Here the church was born, and was born to go forth,” the pope said in his homily. “To go forth, to set out, does not mean to forget. The church, in her going forth, preserves the memory of what took place here.”

On the lower floor, by David’s Tomb, Jews pray in a space that, for all intents and purposes, has become a synagogue. Many of the stone buildings that make up the rest of the Mount Zion compound, which sits just outside Jerusalem’s Old City walls, have been taken over by the Diaspora Yeshiva, a Jewish seminary.

With the pope’s visit, opposition has grown in ultra-Orthodox and nationalist religious Jewish circles to a deal between Israel and the Vatican to allow increased Christian prayer times. Many also believe that the Vatican is seeking ownership of the Cenacle, though Israeli and church officials have denied that. One rumor had it that Pope Francis was considering moving to Mount Zion.

“We are aware of the complexities,” said the Rev. Pierbattista Pizzaballa, the custos of the Holy Land, the Holy See’s representative who cares for pilgrims visiting holy shrines. “But we claim the right to pray in the place like everyone else.”