On Wednesday, President Donald Trump declared that the United States now recognises Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel, and announced his intention to move the US embassy to the city.
At Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP), we are deeply concerned by this development and reports that at least 50 Palestinians protesting against the US decision have been injured by Israeli security forces, nine by live ammunition.
Israel’s annexation of occupied East Jerusalem, the surrounding separation wall, and its complex regime of permits and IDs create manifold barriers to the rights to health and dignity of Palestinians.
MAP has repeatedly raised concerns about armed raids on Palestinian hospitals and healthcare centres in occupied East Jerusalem, as well as dangerous delays to ambulances and patients entering the city via checkpoints.
East Jerusalem is the site of many medical specialties unavailable elsewhere in the occupied Palestinian territory, including cardiac surgery and essential specialist cancer treatments such as radiotherapy. It is therefore vital that Palestinian patients from the West Bank and Gaza are able to enter freely to access this care.
Yet, entry to East Jerusalem for non-residents is restricted to those who can obtain a permit from the Israeli authorities.
This is particularly difficult for people in Gaza, where 46% of patient exit permits have been denied or delayed so far this year – the highest rate of denial since records began in 2006.
East Jerusalem is also a tense and dangerous place to grow up. Children and youth are exposed to the constant presence of occupying security forces and illegal settlers, night-time raids on homes, and widespread arrest and detention.
For Palestinians, living in East Jerusalem is a daily struggle. Israel’s granting of ‘permanent residency’ to Palestinians in East Jerusalem relegates people born and raised in the city to the status of foreigners in their own home, suffering the stress and anxiety of knowing that their residency could be revoked at any time. This system, in addition to the implementation of other policies and practices, is creating a coercive environment that is forcing Palestinians out of the occupied city.
Wednesday’s announcement demonstrates a deplorable disregard for international law and consensus on the issue of Jerusalem. It sets a dangerous precedent which can only serve to give a green light for further violations of the human rights of East Jerusalem’s Palestinian residents.
It is vital that the UK and other influential governments condemn this decision, and redouble their efforts to ensure a just peace based on accountability for all violations of international humanitarian law in East Jerusalem – including the illegal annexation – and across the occupied Palestinian territory.
Aimee Shalan, Chief Executive, Medical Aid for Palestinians