- In 1967 according to Ruth, after the war with the Israeli unification of the city, Palestinians present in East Jerusalem were offered Israeli citizenship if:
- The Israeli government has an extensive policy of “green zoning,” ostensibly taking, (buying, stealing, seizing) (Palestinian) property and converting it into public spaces. In reality these spaces are often made into Jewish settlements or are at least off limits for direly needed Palestinian housing. Only 9% of East Jerusalem is currently zoned for the ballooning Palestinian population, creating a false house shortage and another silent bullet leading to passive transfer of the population. The Palestinian neighborhood of Silwan with its controversial archeological site and park, The City of David, (find evidence for a Jewish presence, thousands of years ago and throw out the rest), has extensive green zoning and growing numbers of the most right wing Jewish settlers. It is easy to see the large blue and white Israeli flags provocatively flapping between Palestinian homes. It is quite clear who is welcome here and by whom. Meanwhile Palestinian schools are short by 1000 classes and 40% of the children drop out. 17,000 children are never even registered. A group recently had to take their case to the Israeli Supreme Court to get a permit to build a girl’s school. A school? (Did I mention that the educational system is totally segregated in the city of peace?)
- The settlement project is alive and well; for example, with a plan for Kidmat Zion a new settlement of 230 units at the heart of the Palestinian Jerusalem neighborhood of Abu Dis. Ruth explains this will be the furthest eastern Jerusalem municipality settlement and will effectively cut off Jerusalem from the West Bank and be just another nail in the two state coffin, should that not already have met an untimely demise. We also pass the faded billboard advertising sites (call that 1-800 number now, homes still available!) for Nof Tzion, a gated Jewish settlement with a dubious financial history, now owned by a major developer, Rami Levy. Passing the lovely tree lined trees and well paved streets, when Nof Zion ends, the potholes and bits of garbage and plastic bags hanging onto the tumble of weeds announce the end of urban services.
- Between the current citizenship and changing family reunification policies, the Israeli state functionally dictates where a Palestinian can live, who he/she can love and where they can work. For example, if a West Banker falls in love and marries an East Jerusalemite, they cannot make their residency in East Jerusalem (where services, health care, education, and the standard of living are better). Not only does this translate into untold family suffering, separation, detentions, etc, but it is estimated that of the 350,000 Palestinians living in East Jerusalem, many thousands live there illegally, risking imprisonment for attempted family unification.
- Jerusalem is a microcosm of what is happening in Area C, the area of the West Bank that is under Israeli civil and military control. There have been innumerable attempts to make life so unbearable that Palestinians will leave and now 150,000 are left. It is rumored that the Israeli government is preparing to officially annex Area C to Israel proper and then may offer the remaining Palestinians Israeli citizenship as their numbers are too small to affect the demographic war.