Argument: Israel misgoverns East Jerusalem; Palestinians should self-govern

Issue Report: Dividing Jerusalem


Tim McGirk. “Jerusalem Divided”. Time. 21 Nov. 2007 – “In a Jerusalem telephone book, for example, maps of Arab neighborhoods are blank, like unexplored parts of the Amazon in the 19th century. That’s because no Arab sits on the municipal committee that chooses street names. On the rare occasion when the committee bothers with East Jerusalem, it is to irritate the Arabs by naming a few streets after Israeli war heroes. Mail is seldom delivered there, and having no street names adds to the Arabs’ perception that in Israeli society they are either invisible, nonexistent or branded terrorists. Abu Walid Dajani, a hotel owner whose family has lived in Jerusalem for more than 700 years, recalls writing to Olmert when the Prime Minister was mayor of Jerusalem, outlining the daily humiliations those in East Jerusalem face. “If all our problems are related to security,” he asked cynically, “why don’t we have a mayor in army uniform?” Olmert, says Dajani, expressed sympathy–but the hotelier insists that the Arabs’ second-class status remains unchanged.”

Arabs might stand a better chance of improving East Jerusalem if they ran for office in local elections. They don’t. Palestinian leaders in the West Bank warn that casting ballots is like collaborating with the enemy. So when the city council elections were last held, in 2003, only 4,000 of 125,000 Arabs voted. As a result, East Jerusalem’s residents pay 30% of total municipal taxes, but they get back services worth only 5% of the city’s budget. Israeli courts have said the municipality should add 1,400 new classrooms in the East, but so far city hall has built only five.

Suzanne Goldenberg. “Riot police seize Palestinian capital”. The Guardian. 11 Aug. 2001 – Palestinians object to what they call the Judaisation of the Old City. Mr Sharon has bought a home there, though he does not live there. He has provocatively draped a huge Israeli flag almost the length of the house, which lies on one of the main arteries used by the Palestinians.

Palestinian life within East Jerusalem has been deteriorating in contrast with Israeli West Jerusalem, which is relatively prosperous. Schools, medical facilities and commerce in East Jerusalem have suffered because of Israel’s decision to cut it off from the West Bank.