Analysis of the Reality of Jerusalem

Needs and Challenges

For many years since the Israeli occupation, Jerusalem has been marginalised, neglected and targeted to obliterate the city’s Palestinian identity and weaken the social fabric of its people. In addition to that,  the city's infrastructure, services and economic capabilities have been neglected too.

 In this section, we briefly present the reality of the city in different sectors in order to indicate the needs and priorities for development.

2.1 Education

For many years, the Israeli Occupation Authorities have systematically targeted the education sector in Jerusalem in an attempt to produce generations that are unaware of their own history and in result have minimal belonging to their land.  This in its turn plays a vital role in fading away the Arabic identity of the city and deconstruct its importance to the people. The Israeli Authorities have also been targeting the entire educational process in Jerusalem by trying to impose the Israeli curriculum  on the various educational institutions in Occupied East Jerusalem in an attempt to dissipate the Jerusalemite community into the Israeli society.

The challenges that the Education sector encounters are mainly  found in the poor preparation and training of teachers as well as low salaries, especially in comparison with their counterparts in the Israeli municipal schools. This comes on the top of  poor infrastructure at schools, overcrowded classrooms and the lack of health and safety conditions. Another strategic threat that the education sector faces is the competition with educational services provided by the Israeli municipality. The education sector is exploited by the Israeli Authorities to teach a controlled content curriculum; in addition to the fact that most East Jerusalem institutions lack the equipment for vocational training and lack  coordination among other institutions. There is also a dire need for continuous development for university programs and vocational training to keep pace with the needs of the labor market and to increase employability. Hence, the low quality of the educational system resulting from the aforementioned challenges has caused an outflow of a large proportion of the most qualified teachers to the schools of the Israeli municipality. This was accompanied by a high drop-out rate between secondary school students and which have reached 40%.

2.2 Heritage and Culture

This sector has sustained negligence which encompassed all cultural activities, and suffered lack of care for the historical and architectural monuments of Jerusalem and poor awareness of their importance, despite its correlation with firming the identity and affiliation of the people of Jerusalem and reinforcing its resistance to the policy of Israelisation  of land and people. The historical and religious buildings within and around the Holy Mosque have been adversely affected by the ongoing Israeli excavations in severe violation of international laws on the conservation of heritage.  Consequently, the UNESCO has responded by placing the city of Jerusalem on the World Heritage List. Due to the severe shortage of funding, museums, youth clubs and libraries lack infrastructure and qualified administrative personnel.

2.3 Economic Situation

The economy of Jerusalem primarily depends on tourism and trade.  Hence, the importance of supporting and developing the city's commercial and tourism institutions is particularly underlined. Only 40% of Jerusalem population earns the minimum wage, while 64% of the population is below the poverty line. All Jerusalemite suffer from the heavy Israeli taxes and from policies of separating Jerusalem from the rest of the West Bank, though its economy is historically and structurally linked to the influx of people from the West Bank cities for shopping and worshiping.

As a result of the construction of the apartheid wall around the Holy City, preventing the West Bank population from access to East Jerusalem, the number of shoppers has fallen to 40%, and the dependence of the Jerusalemite economy on Israel has increased.  More than 40% of Jerusalemites are now working for Israelis. In the face of the fierce competition with their Israeli counterparts combined with their inability to pay bank loans following the deterioration of tourism in the Holy City, most of the owners of hotels and similar facilities have had to close their businesses, which exacerbated the economic deterioration.

2.4 Social Situation

As a consequence of the difficult economic situation and the systematic policies of the occupation to undermine the social structure of Jerusalemites, the city of Jerusalem suffers from a difficult social situation with increasing rates of poverty, unemployment and addiction to drugs, especially among young people, added to the collapse of the middle class in the city and poor educational, health and social services. The social situation is characterized by the disintegration of the social fabric. The young people of Jerusalem live in a tragic situation, with the outspread of addiction to drugs, unemployment, extreme poverty, lack of security and safety, and other problems targeting the Palestinian Arab identity.

2.5 Lands and Housing

The occupation authority imposes restrictions on the residents of the city in the areas of the legal status of land ownership, and allocation of housing, issuing building permits in addition to increasing the pace of land confiscation and demolition of houses. Israel directly confiscated 34% of the land of East Jerusalem, halted the development of 44% under the false pretext of green areas where construction is prohibited; and allocated 9% for the expansion of settlements, which leaves only 13% for the Arab neighborhoods. The continued rise in land prices due to the multiplicity of taxes, the rising demand and the stalemate in supply and possibly its decline, have posed obstructions to investment in the city's housing sector, and caused high overpopulation in the existing buildings.

In the area of house demolitions, (هذه الفقرة غير كاملة في الأصل العربي)

2.6 Health

The Health Sector in Jerusalem sustains many problems, the most significant of which is the attempt by the Israeli occupation authorities to weaken and control the health care institutions, especially Jerusalem hospitals, which has a very critical role to play within the Palestinian health care system. Health care is provided in the highest levels of specialization (secondary and tertiary) not only for Jerusalem residents, but for all patients referred from the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Primary and secondary health care (hospitals), as well as mental health facilities, are facing many problems, especially in terms of competition with Israeli health services, which emphasizes the need to promote the independence of the health institutions in Jerusalem from the Israeli Patient Fund and improve the level of services in the city.

One of the many problems in this regard is the requirement that hospitals and health centers in East Jerusalem must comply with Israeli laws, which severely restrict licenses and impose high taxes, exacerbating financial problems caused by budget deficits. Compulsory health insurance also compels the insured to only refer to health centers authorized by Israel. On the ground, the health centers operating in East Jerusalem operate with limited capabilities compared with their Israeli counterparts in terms of the number and modernity of medical devices, the number and adequacy of the employees and the quality of the systems in place.

At the psychological and mental health level, Palestinian families are living under extraordinary levels of terror, tension and violence due to Israeli raids and the deteriorating social and economic conditions.

2.7 Institutions and Legal Support

Civil society institutions in Jerusalem are the most crucial tool for the implementation of projects and activities in the city, as the Palestinian Authority is prohibited from operating directly in the city. In addition to developing these institutions and promoting their role, the legal and media aspects of the said sectors must also be supported. Those civil institutions have also been targeted by the Israeli occupation authorities, which closed 23 institutions operating in Jerusalem.  The tightening of the apartheid wall around Jerusalem forced the departure of 25 Jerusalemite foundations from Jerusalem to neighboring areas in the West Bank, mainly to the city of Ramallah, near Jerusalem.

Because of the high cost of legal services in the city, many Jerusalemites are reluctant to pursue their legal actions related to their rights in the city, especially in the area of home demolitions and the withdrawal of their cards of residency.