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Thursday, December 8, 2011

UN Releases Brief on Settlement Activity, East Jerusalem

09.12.11 - 05:08

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) on Tuesday published a brief including detailed information about settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territories and difficulties faced by Palestinians living in East Jerusalem.

Israeli settlement construction takes place near the southern West Bank city of Bethlehem (Lo Yuk Fai, PNN).
The position paper affirms that around 270,000 Palestinians live in Jerusalem, while 200,000 Israeli settlers live in settlements that have been built since 1967 in the occupied territories and in violation of international law.

According to the brief, 3.7 million Palestinians are forbidden from entering East Jerusalem without permits. Israeli security controls the ways to get into East Jerusalem through financial and administrative obstacles. Palestinians who have permits use four out of the 16 checkpoints placed along the wall.

Furthermore, Israeli restrictions make it difficult for Palestinian patients to get to into Jerusalem hospitals, even in the case of emergencies. Some urgent health services are not available in the occupied territories.

About 35 percent of the land in East Jerusalem has been confiscated for the building of Israeli settlements and much of the rest is already built-up, leaving only 13 percent of the land left for Palestinians.

In addition, 35 percent of Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem do not have the required Israeli-issued permit. The permits are notoriously difficult to acquire, but failure to have one can lead to a US $86,500 fine or displacement.
Israel also confiscated 13,135 identity cards between 1967 and 2008 and during the same period, Israeli authorities have demolished almost 20,000 houses in East Jerusalem, claiming that Palestinians do not have secure legal residence status. Those most susceptible live in the Old City of Jerusalem, Silwan, and the neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah.

OCHA confirmed that Israeli seizure of the Palestinian lands in East Jerusalem and the West Bank was in violation of international law and that the international community recognizes East Jerusalem as being part of the occupied Palestinian territories.

The report read, “Since 1967, Israeli activities changed the status of East Jerusalem and affected Palestinian residency in East Jerusalem, including educational and health services, and the ability of Palestinians in East Jerusalem to plan and develop their societies."

The brief includes details about land confiscations: about 25.5 square kilometers have been confiscated for Israeli settlement construction, 9.2 square kilometers left for Palestinian construction, 21.4 square kilometers left unplanned, and 15.5 square kilometers designed for agriculture and public infrastructure.

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