- Published on Monday, 06 August 2012 11:39
More than 90,000 Palestinian Jerusalemites at risk of forcible displacement by Israel
On Monday, 6th August, the Civic Coalition for Palestinian Rights in Jerusalem (Civic Coalition-Jerusalem) said in a press release that it is deeply concerned about the situation of the more than 90,000 Palestinian Jerusalemites who have been cut off from the city since Israel's construction of the illegal Wall in occupied East Jerusalem.
According to an Israeli press report, Israel's Jerusalem municipality has now initiated steps toward the transfer of Palestinian neighbourhoods located east of the Wall to the responsibility of the Israeli military. If implemented, this measure will constitute yet another Israeli act of forced population transfer that violates international law and infringes against the entire set of human rights of the affected Palestinian population. The Civic Coalition-Jerusalem urges the international diplomatic and humanitarian community to investigate and act as required in order to prevent implementation of this blatantly illegal measure and protect the Palestinian population at risk.
More than 90,000 Palestinian residents of Jerusalem currently live in East Jerusalem neighbourhoods, including Kufr Aqab, Samiramis, Ras Khamis, Dahiyet al-Salam/Anata and the UNRWA-administered Sho'fat refugee camp, which are slated for the transfer. Residents in these areas already suffer from severe restrictions of movement and lack of access to the public services they are entitled to receive. Although their neighbourhoods are part of Jerusalem as occupied and illegally annexed by Israel since 1967, they are unable to access public institutions and services in the centre of the city without crossing an Israeli checkpoint. At the same time, public services are no longer available in their neighbourhoods because Israeli authorities, including the Jerusalem municipality, have completely ceased to perform their responsibilities in these areas since they were cut off by the Wall. This has resulted in a severe deterioration of living conditions in these areas caused by lack of secure access to water, electricity and health- and other public services, including garbage disposal and road repairs.
According to an Israeli press report , Israel's mayor of Jerusalem Nir Barkat announced six months ago that the Palestinian neighbourhoods located east of the Wall should be transferred to the responsibility of the Israel military. It is further reported that initial practical steps have already been undertaken. The Jerusalem municipality's director-general Yossi Heiman has asked the military's "Civil Administration" to take over responsibility for the parts of Jerusalem "on the wrong side of the fence", and a meeting has been convened to discuss how to best handle the Palestinian residents of Jerusalem living on the other side of the Wall. Present at this meeting were, in addition to municipality officials, the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, Maj. Gen. Eitan Dangot, on behalf of the Israeli Ministry of Defence, and the head of the Civil Administration, Brig. Gen. Moti Almoz. The meeting resulted in the formation of a committee which is to present a formal recommendation for the transfer of responsibility to Israeli decision-making organs, including the Knesset.
If implemented, the transfer of these Palestinian neighbourhoods to the responsibility of the Israeli military's Civil Administration will have serious consequences for the population, including the loss of their legal status as residents of Jerusalem. Under Israeli law, Palestinian residents of occupied East Jerusalem are required to document that their "center of life" is located within the Israeli-defined boundaries of the city in order to retain their status as permanent residents of the Jerusalem, and Israeli authorities pursue a policy of revoking the resident status of those who cannot do so. The Civil Coalition-Jerusalem is strongly concerned about the future status of these more than 90,000 Palestinian Jerusalemites, including their right to access and live in the city, because the planned transfer of responsibility for them from the Israeli Jerusalem municipality to the military will most likely result in their administrative separation from Jerusalem and revocation of the Jerusalem resident status of this entire Palestinian population.
In terms of international law, the planned transfer of the Palestinian neighbourhoods constitutes yet another measure whereby Israel violates the prohibitions on forced population transfer and the permanent acquisition of occupied Palestinian territory which have been denounced by UN Security Council resolutions since the 1970s. The International Court of Justice (ICJ) Advisory Opinion of 2004 found these Israeli violations to be serious breaches of international customary and humanitarian treaty law which undermine the right to self-determination of the Palestinian people. The ICJ concluded, therefore, that all States and the United Nations have a legal duty to cooperate to end these Israeli breaches, and that States signatories of the Fourth Geneva Convention are to act in order to ensure Israel's compliance with the provisions of the Convention.
The Civic Coalition-Jerusalem urges the international diplomatic and humanitarian community to act according to the above international obligations, and to investigate and take measures as required in order to prevent more forcible Israeli transfer of Palestinians from occupied East Jerusalem and protect the Palestinian population at risk.