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Jerusalem – Facts

July 2, 2012

Wednesday, April 4. 2007

Population of Municipal Jerusalem:

Jews: approximately 430,000

Palestinians: approximately 200,000

Jerusalem Municipal Area (1948-67): 44km2 (11,000 acres)

West Jerusalem: 38 km2 (9,500 acres)

East Jerusalem: 6 km2 (1,500 acres)

Jerusalem Municipal Area (post-1967): 108 km (27,000 acres), enlarging the Israeli-controlled city by two-third


70 km2 (70,000 dunums/17,600 acres) now comprising “East Jerusalem”.

Of these “East Jerusalem” lands, only 9% (6 km) comprised the Old City and its adjacent neighbourhoods.

91% (64 km2) of the annexed lands belonged to 28 Palestinian villages which were never a part of the municipal area.

23 km2 (23,000 dunums/5,700 acres) of the lands expropriated were owned privately by Palestinians.

In all, 60% of what is claimed as “unified Jerusalem” (64 km2 out of 108 km2 was never part of Jerusalem at all but rather part of the West Bank)


In 1995 the Israeli government approved the “Metropolitan Jerusalem Plan” that envisioned “Three Jerusalem”:

Municipal Jerusalem includes West Jerusalem and all the lands of “East Jerusalem” expropriated in 1967. It has been “secured” by an “inner ring” of Israeli-only satellite cities that today contain some 250,000 Jewish residents: Ramot, Rekhes Shuafat, Pisgat Zeev, Neveh Yaakov, French Hill, East Tapilot, Har Homa, and Gilo.

Greater Jerusalem includes an “outer ring” of settlements across the Green Line which are being integrated into the Jerusalem urban fabric. This “outer ring”, which today has 50,000 Jewish residents but is projected to grow to 250,000 in 15 years, includes the satellite cities of: Har Adar, Givat Zeev, New Givon, Kiryat Sefer, Maaleh Adumim, Efrata, the Etzion Bloc and Beitar Illit.

Metropolitan Jerusalem, described as a regional plan, will incorporate a full 40% of the West Bank (440 km2). Since it incorporates large Palestinian towns and cities (Ramallah, El Bireh, Beit Sahour, Bethlehem and Beit Jalla), massive building work is to be undertaken to preserve the 72%-28% Jewish majority in the entire region. Metropolitan Jerusalem contains about 75% of the West Bank settler population and up to 80% of construction over the past decade. In its last days, the Netanyahu government approved 142,000 housing units in the “Jewish Sector” of Metropolitan Jerusalem.

Accelerated construction has taken place over the past few months of “ring roads” and “by-pass roads” connecting the various parts of the metropolitan “Jewish Sector”.


Jerusalem in its “greater” and “metropolitan” forms is being transformed from a city into a regional wedge which will:
(1) Effectively divide the northern part of the West Bank from the southern part. (2) Isolate Jerusalems Palestinian population from their wider society, and
(3) Create a “corridor” from Tel Aviv to Amman which effectively marginalizes the West Bank population even from the wider Arab world, ensuring Israeli control over any Palestinian entity which might emerge.


Between 1967-1995, 76,151 housing units were built in East Jerusalem. 88% of them (64,880) were built for Jews with government subsidies and other kinds of support, and only 12% (8,880) for Palestinians, almost all on private property and with private financial resources.

As of 1996 there were 23,073 Arab housing units in Jerusalem, most of them overcrowded (2.2 persons per room, vs. 1.1 in the Jewish sector). To meet only the existing needs of the Palestinian population, an additional 21,000 units must be built. The Municipality grants 150 permits a year for Arab housing and demolishes between 20-50 homes a year.

Securing a building permit does not guarantee adequate housing. In most cases Palestinians are permitted to build on only 25% of their land, since they have a small plot (which most working-class Palestinians in Jerusalem do), the house they are allowed to build is extremely small. Additional rooms added as the family grows or due to the inability of married sons to obtain building permits for their own families, thus forcing them to continue living with their parents are often demolished. A basic house might stand, but it cannot be enlarged to accommodate a growing familys needs. By contrast, Israeli contractors are allowed to enlarge by 150% or more the size of the property. Jewish-Israelis, then, are able to acquire roomy apartments in medium- or high-rise buildings, or are able to purchase spacious “villas” 21,000 Palestinian residents of Jerusalem suffer from chronically inadequate housing.

While no law prohibits Palestinian from buying on the open market as well, the hostility and violence they would face from their Jewish-Israeli neighbours is enough to dissuade them from moving outside the confines of their own crowded quarters.

Although the Palestinian population comprises some 30% of the citys population, it receives only 11% of the municipalitys budget for urban services. Much of East Jerusalem is lacking such basic services as sewage systems, roads, parks, lighting, schools and community services.


In the meantime, Palestinian residents of Jerusalem are confined to highly circumscribed parts of “East Jerusalem” Of its 70,000 dunums,

35% has been expropriated for Israeli neighbourhoods, roads and other facilities.

An additional 54% is forbidden for Palestinian construction (for various reasons such as security or zoned “green spaces”).

Only 11% of East Jerusalem land is left for Palestinian housing and other needs.

Although the citys 200,000 Palestinian residents make up about a third of the total population, they have access to only 3.5% of the citys total urban space for their housing and community needs.

The Municipalitys officially declared policy is to maintain a 72%-28% majority of Jews over Palestinians in Jerusalem.


In 1997 alone, it was estimated that 20,000 dunums of land were confiscated from outlying areas of the city for settlement expansion.

Construction has begun at Jabal Abu Ghneim (Har Homa), and plans are afoot for a number of housing units for Jewish families at Silwan, named by the Israelis “The City of David”.

In the Old City, Ateret Cohanim, a religious-messianic-settler organisation supported by the government, is seeking to expel the Muslim population from the Old City altogether. The Bab al-Huta neighbourhood in the Old City has become one of the latest targets for settlers. On Israeli Election Day, 1999, work began on the Israeli housing project in Ras el-Amud.


10,000 Palestinian housing units have been declared “illegal”; some 2000 demolition orders are outstanding.

Demolition of Palestinian homes in Jerusalem is carried out by both Municipality and the Ministry of Interior.

In East Jerusalem, house demolitions orders concern mainly new buildings and additional floors, while in West Jerusalem demolition orders relate to utilization of spaces not authorised, such as verandas or minor addition, Jewish houses are never demolished.


In additional to discriminatory planning policies designed to maintain a severe housing shortage for the Palestinian population and the demolition of “illegal” Palestinian homes, the government and municipality attempt to make living conditions so difficult for Palestinian that they will leave the city altogether (the Quiet Transfer).

Between 1996 and May 1999, 2,200 ID cards have been confiscated, forcing some 8,800 Palestinian Jerusalemites into exile or illegal existence in their own homes.

According to a recent Btselem report (1997), the “system” works as follows:
The Jerusalem Municipality expropriates land, prevents preparation of a town planning scheme for Palestinian neighbourhoods and refuse to grant building permits, causing a severe housing shortage, forcing residents to build without a permit, after which the Ministry of Interior and the Municipality demolish the house, so the residents move into homes outside the city, and then the Ministry of Interior revokes their residency rights and banishes them from the city forever.

Jeff Halper, AIC, Jerusalem


From → News

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