JERUSALEM – Israeli forces demolished two homes in the Jabal al-Mukabbir neighborhood of East Jerusalem on Tuesday, having earlier destroyed two Palestinian homes in al-Tur.
Witnesses said that a large Israeli police force surrounded the buildings in Jabal al-Mukabbir and closed off the area before demolishing the buildings.
One building belonged to the Abu al-Dabaat family and consisted of three floors housing four families. The second building was home to the al-Qaq family and housed three people.
The al-Qaq family built the property 13 years ago and received a demolition order in 2002 for lacking a building permit. The demolition order was halted and an Israeli court ordered the family to pay 80,000 shekels ($21,800) as a penalty.
The family then tried to obtain a building permit, but were unable to do so.
Earlier, Israeli forces demolished two houses in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of al-Tur, leaving seven people homeless.
According to the UN, 33 percent of all Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem lack Israeli-issued building permits, potentially placing at least 93,100 residents at risk of displacement.
Figures from Israeli NGO Bimkom show that 95 percent of Palestinian applications for a building permit are rejected.
Since 1967, the Israeli authorities have demolished some 2,000 houses in East Jerusalem. Over 1,630 Palestinians were made homeless in house demolitions carried out by Israel between 2004-2012, B’Tselem says.
- Israel demolishes West Bank homes, water wells (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Soldiers Kidnap Two Children In Jerusalem (imemc.org)
- Israeli court rules to allow mosque demolition in Jerusalem (occupiedpalestine.wordpress.com)
Israeli soldiers kidnapped the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem and the Holy Land, Sheikh Mohammad Hussein, after surrounding his home and breaking into it Wednesday.
Local sources reported that the army invaded As-Suwwana neighborhood, in Jabal Al-Mokabbir in occupied East Jerusalem, and broke into the home of the Mufti before kidnapping him.
Sheikh Hussein asked to follow the soldiers by car to the Al-Maskobiyya Police Station and interrogation facility in the city, but they refused and placed him in one of their vehicles.
In related news, the army kidnapped Engineer Mustafa Abu Zahra, head of a committee in charge of maintaining Islamic graveyards in Jerusalem.
Furthermore, Israeli police officers were heavily deployed at the gates of the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, interrogated dozens of worshipers while inspecting their ID Cards, withheld their ID cards and informed them that they will get their ID’s back once they leave the mosque area.
In addition, a number of settlers invaded the Al-Aqsa Mosque yard through the Al-Magharba Gate accompanied by dozens of soldiers and police officers.
On Tuesday evening, the Israeli Police handed orders to Palestinian shop owners in the Old City ordering them not to display their products in front of their shops on Wednesday evening in order to allow the settlers to march through the city and its markets while marking the so-called “Jerusalem Day”.
The “Jerusalem Day” is a an Israeli “national holiday” that started in June 1967 after the Israeli forces occupied East Jerusalem, and the rest of Palestine following the six-day war. In 1982, the Israeli Knesset passed a “legislation” considering Jerusalem “complete and united” as the eternal capital of Israel.
- Grand Mufti of Jerusalem detained (gulfnews.com)
Israeli forces on Monday demolished Palestinian homes and water wells in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, as settlers confiscated land near Hebron to build a new outpost, local media reported.
In occupied East Jerusalem, Israeli forces razed two apartments in the Tur neighborhood after several attempts by the owners to reverse the demolition order failed.
The authorities evicted 24 members of the Ghaith family, including five children and an elderly woman, from the two apartments ahead of the demolition, Rushi Ghaith, one of the owners, told Palestinian news agency Ma’an.
The apartments were scheduled for demolition in December but the family secured a court-ordered injunction to stop it from going ahead, Ghaith said.
The Ghaith family lawyer said they had successfully stalled attempts to raze the apartments since September 2004, when Israeli authorities handed down the demolition notice because the home was built without a licensing permit. The family’s case to reverse the demolition order is ongoing.
Ghaith said the family has been fined 80,000 Israeli shekels (about $22,000) since the case began.
Meanwhile Israeli soldiers demolished water wells south of Hebron in al-Fawar refugee camp, as settlers from the nearby Ma’oun settlement seized land west of Yatta in preparation for the establishment of new outposts.
Abdul Hadi Hantash, an expert on settlement policies in the southern West Bank, said that the Ma’oun settlers seized land of one of the hills southwest of their original outpost.
Hantash told reporters that the wells the soldiers destroyed were used for agricultural purposes and irrigation.
He added that the continued confiscation of land and demolition of Palestinian structures, including the bulldozing of homes and uprooting of trees, are part of the Israeli government’s illegal settlement expansion program.
Israeli demolitions of Palestinian homes and other structures in the occupied West Bank occur almost daily under the pretext of building without a permit.
According to the United Nations, 33 percent of all Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem lack Israeli-issued building permits, which are difficult to obtain, potentially placing at least 93,100 residents at risk of displacement.
Roughly 94 percent of Palestinian applications for building permits are rejected, according to the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions.
The group estimates that Israeli authorities have demolished about 27,000 Palestinian structures in the West Bank since 1967.
(Ma’an, Wafa, Al-Akhbar)
- Palestinian monastery loses court battle over apartheid wall (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- We want to live in dignity (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Israeli settlers use six times more water than Palestinians – new report (realisticbird.wordpress.com)
JERUSALEM – Last month, an international fact-finding mission on Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) commissioned by the UN Human Rights Council found that settlements constituted a violation of international human rights and humanitarian law and called on Israel to stop all expansions immediately and withdraw from settlements.
A controversial Israeli plan, known as E-1, to build thousands of housing units and hotel rooms near the Ma’ale Adummim settlement, has garnered much attention in the media because it would sever Palestinian East Jerusalem from the rest of the West Bank. (See IRIN’s briefing on E-1 here.)
But at the same time, Israel has been moving forward with equally controversial settlement plans under less scrutiny and with unusual speed.
As US President Barack Obama prepares to visit the region this week, IRIN takes a look at some of the details that have been overlooked in the discussion.
What’s the Giv’at HaMatos plan?
According to Israeli NGO Ir Amim (“City of Nations”), which works to preserve Jerusalem as a home for both Jews and Palestinians, one settlement plan of “critical importance” is Giv’at HaMatos.
In a sense, Giv’at HaMatos does in the south what E-1 does in the east. The planned large housing and hotel complex at the southern perimeter of Jerusalem would further disrupt the contiguity of land between East Jerusalem and the rest of the West Bank required for a future Palestinian state, seriously impeding a two-state solution, research and rights groups say. It would also mark the first new settlement construction in Jerusalem since 1997.
“All construction is problematic but there are several plans that are, in our view, more dangerous if implemented,” Hagit Ofran, director of the Settlement Watch project at the Israeli NGO Peace Now, told IRIN. “Giv’at HaMatos is the most dangerous plan that is now approved.”
Part of the plan – to build 2,612 units – was approved by the Jerusalem Regional Planning Committee on 19 December.
Most of Giv’at HaMatos is currently uninhabited, but according to the International Crisis Group (ICG), which recently released a two-part report on the future of East Jerusalem, its build-up would cut off Arab neighbourhoods in southern Jerusalem, like Beit Safafa and Sharafat, rendering them “Palestinian enclaves”.
Giv’at HaMatos would connect the dots of several other planned or expanding settlements along southern Jerusalem – including Giv’at Yael in the southwest; and Har Homa and East Talpiyot in the southeast – forming “a long Jewish continuum severing Bethlehem’s urban continuum from Palestinian Jerusalem”, ICG said. Last year, the Israeli government also approved more than 2,000 new units in neighbouring Gilo.
This kind of attachment to Jewish expansions could make peace negotiations even harder.
“From an Israeli public opinion perspective, Giv’at HaMatos is in the municipal border of Jerusalem,” Ofran said. “It’s considered a legitimate part of Israel.”
Barak Cohen, the Jerusalem Municipality’s adviser for foreign affairs and media, told IRIN Giv’at HaMatos is part of Jerusalem’s “natural and much-needed growth”, allowing both Arab and Jewish landowners to develop their properties.
Indeed, part of the Giv’at HaMatos plan, approved on 18 December, allows for the building of 549 units for Palestinians – though Betty Herschman, director of international relations and advocacy at Ir Amim, points out much of it retroactively legalizes building that has already been completed. The figures, she added, amount to just over one-fifth of the Jewish expansion.
“For many Arab East Jerusalemites, the battle for their city is all but lost.”
Still, Cohen insisted, the development would benefit Jerusalem as a whole: “Not planning and developing Jerusalem neighbourhoods ultimately harms all residents and landowners – Arabs and Jews alike.”
Last year, Israel also issued tenders for the construction of 606 new housing units north of East Jerusalem, in the Ramot settlement, just north of the Green Line marking the border between Israel and the West Bank, and approved another 1,500 units in the neighbouring settlement of Ramot Shlomo, according to Ir Amim.
What other settlements are planned?
Beyond Jerusalem, there was movement on a number of other settlements projects in disputed areas, according to Settlement Watch.
In June 2012, the Israeli government announced it would build 851 new units in the West Bank, including more than 230 in the controversial settlements of Ariel and Efrat. Like Giv’at HaMatos, these two settlements make a contiguous Palestinian territory impossible, Settlement Watch says.
Overall, settlements expanded much faster than usual last year.
In 2012 the Israeli government approved the construction of 6,676 settler housing units in the West Bank, compared with 1,607 in 2011 and several hundred in 2010, according to Peace Now.
For plans that were already approved, it issued more than 3,000 tenders to construction contractors – more than any other year in the last decade, Peace Now said. Construction has actually begun on 1,747 homes.
Regardless of the settlements, Palestinians, especially in Area C, are under immense pressure. Recent weeks have seen a considerable upswing in demolitions of Palestinian structures. According to the Displacement Working Group, a grouping of aid agencies helping displaced families, Israeli forces destroyed 139 Palestinian structures, including 59 homes, in January – almost triple 2012’s monthly average. The demolitions occurred in East Jerusalem and the West Bank – with a majority taking place in Area C – and left 251 Palestinians, including over 150 children, displaced.
The office of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the (Palestinian) Territories (COGAT) told IRIN there was no connection between the removal of unauthorized buildings and the construction of Israeli settlements. “All construction in the West Bank is subject to building codes and planning laws and unauthorized constructions are dealt with accordingly,” the office said in an email.
What are the knock-on effects?
Settlements are often discussed through the lens of their illegality under international law or as obstacles to a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. But everything associated with the settlements – including Israeli-only infrastructure, the separation barrier, military checkpoints, restrictions on Palestinian freedom of movement, suppression of freedom of expression and political life, and control of Palestinian natural resources – causes a ripple effect through Palestinian society, adversely impacting the people.
The UN estimates there are now 520,000 Israeli settlers in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, with 43 percent of the land there allocated to local and regional settlement councils. According to the UN Secretary-General, Israel has transferred roughly 8 percent of its citizens into OPT since the 1970s, altering the demographic composition of the territory and furthering the Palestinian people from their right to self-determination.
Baker, of the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office, said a future Palestinian state should include a Jewish minority. “The assumption behind this… is that Jews have no right to live in the West Bank, an assumption that we reject. In fact we see ourselves as the true indigenous people of this land.”
But Israeli settlements have violated Palestinian rights to equality under the law, to religious freedom and to freedom of movement, according to the UN fact-finding mission. They have also eroded Palestinian access to water and to agricultural assets, and the ability to develop economically, it said.
Photo: OCHA – View larger version of map here
For example, Bedouins from the Palestinian village of Khan Al Ahmar, northeast of E-1, cannot sell their dairy products at their traditional Souq Al Ahmar market any more. Because of movement restrictions (they hold West Bank IDs and lack the proper permits to enter East Jerusalem), they cannot get there.
The UN secretary-general has said that Palestinians “have virtually no control” over the water resources in the West Bank, with 86 percent of the Jordan Valley and the Dead Sea under the de facto jurisdiction of the settlement regional councils.
There is a statistical correlation between Palestinians’ proximity to settlements and their rates of food insecurity, according to a UN and government survey, which found that one quarter of Palestinians who live in Area C, home to the largest number of settlements in the West Bank, are food insecure. In Areas A and B, the average rate of food insecurity is 17 percent.
In addition, “all spheres of Palestinian life are being significantly affected by a minority of settlers who are engaged in violence and intimidation with the aim of forcing Palestinians off their land,” the mission said.
Operation Dove, an international organization working in the Palestinian village of At-Tuwani and the South Hebron Hills, reported that Palestinian children have a very hard time going to school due to settler attacks.
The UN and rights groups say radical settlers use violence against Palestinians with impunity and their illegal outposts are often recognized and retroactively legalized by the government.
Since the occupation began, Israel has detained hundreds of thousands of Palestinians, some of them without charge, and some of them children. Most of the minors are arrested “at friction points, such as a village near a settlement or a road used by the army or settlers”, the fact-finding mission said.
Israel uses what they term “administrative detention” when it considers the detainee a threat to the security of the state.
Ir Amim’s Herschman says Israel is also attempting to create a “greater Jerusalem” through additional means, for example: the Israeli separation barrier, planned national parks, and the construction of highways dividing villages, dispossessing Palestinians of their land and making it harder for them to access services like schools and mosques.
In recent weeks, residents of the Palestinian village of Beit Safafa have been protesting against the planned extension of the Begin Highway that would divide their village in order to connect major Israeli settlement blocks outside the city to Jerusalem.
The planned root of the separation barrier, in addition to a potential national park around the perimeter of the barrier would also close off nearby Palestinian village al-Wallajeh.
The planned route of the barrier extends all the way around and far beyond Muale Adummim and in other areas south and north of Jerusalem. “These lines are a unilateral declaration of a much greater Jerusalem, a unilateral expanding of the boundaries, an exponential increase,” she told IRIN.
Or as the ICG put it, “for many Arab East Jerusalemites, the battle for their city is all but lost.”
An internal report by the European Union has come down hard on Israel’s decision to continue settlement construction in occupied East Jerusalem, threatening to end economic projects that involve the Jewish settlements.
The harshly worded 15-page report provides recommendations to the 27 member-states for responding to Israel’s activities in the occupied territories – which the document described as “systematic, deliberate and provocative” – and endorses a strategy that aims at “making it impossible for Jerusalem to become the capital of two states.”
Seven of the report’s 10 recommendations propose slapping tough economic sanctions on organizations directly involved in construction projects in the Jewish settlements, Israeli daily Haaretz reported. The report also called on the EU’s 27 member-states to “prevent, discourage and raise awareness” about doing business with companies that work in the disputed settlement zones.
It advised EU states to work to ensure that products exported from the settlements not receive an unfair advantage through “preferential tariffs,” and to give consumers an opportunity to make an “informed choice” through clear labeling of products’ origins.
The report advocated “closer supervision” of technological research and development programs between the EU and Israel. The measures would work to ensure that “no research grants, scholarships or other technological investments assist settlements, either directly or indirectly,” or be provided to agencies working in the settlements.
Haaretz, which obtained a copy of the report, called the sanctions “particularly severe” compared to earlier EU reports.
The annual report, compiled by EU consuls in Jerusalem and Ramallah, does not require member-states to implement the measures – the document’s recommendations serve as a guidepost for individual EU states in dealing with the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
In December, several EU countries, including the UK, France and Sweden, summoned their Israeli ambassadors to voice disapproval of the ongoing construction projects.
The report expressed frustration with Israel for its late-November announcement of new settlement construction projects, shortly after the UN General Assembly voted to recognize Palestine as a non-member observer state – a move strongly condemned by Israel and the US.
The implementation of the Israeli government’s so-called E-1 project “would effectively divide the West Bank into separate northern and southern parts,” the report explained, adding that it would also “prevent Palestinians in East Jerusalem from further urban development and cut off East Jerusalem from the rest of the West Bank.”
Israel is “systematically undermining the Palestinian presence” in East Jerusalem through controversial strategies, including “restrictive zoning and planning, demolitions and evacuations, discriminatory access to religious sites, an inequitable education policy, difficult access to health care, the inadequate provision of resources,” the report said. … Full article
On Saturday at dawn thousands of Israeli soldiers and policemen attacked the Bab Al-Shams Palestinian village, installed east of in occupied East Jerusalem, and forcibly removed dozens of activists loading them into buses.
The soldiers dragged several activists onto the ground, attacked reporters and journalists and declared the area a closed military zone, several injuries were reported.
The Israeli decision to evacuate the village came, on Saturday, through a direct order issued by Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and his right-wing fundamentalist cabinet.
Israeli daily, Haaretz, reported that by midnight Saturday, the order was signed by Osnat Mandel, head of the Israeli High Court division of the Justice Ministry, under the claim that “the people and the tents must be removed due to security considerations”.
The Israeli Police said that the eviction order, issued by the court, prohibits the army from removing the tents, but orders the removal of the people staying there.
Also, the so-called Israeli Civil Administration Office, run by the occupation in the West bank, claimed that the Palestinian tent village “was installed on state land”.
But four Bedouin families living in the area confirmed that they own the land, and even showed deeds proving ownership.
Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi, secretary-general of the Palestinian National Initiative, who was also at the Palestinian village, stated that hundreds of Israeli soldiers invaded the village after surrounding it, and attacked the nonviolent activists camped there, and started kidnapping them.
The soldiers violently attacked the residents, including journalists, elderly and women, and dragged several residents onto the ground.
The soldiers repeatedly interrupted the work of local reporters, flashing their lights onto the camera, and pushing the reporters away, and dragged dozens of activists into buses that were brought by the army to the area.
On Saturday evening, Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, ordered the army “to remove the Palestinians and their supporters from the Palestinian outpost” that was installed on privately-owned Palestinian lands to send a message to Israel and the entire world that this land is the land of Palestine, and the Palestinian people have the right to inhabit it.
The army installed dozens of roadblocks around the area to prevent Palestinian traffic and surrounded the Bab Al-Shams camp where around 200 activists installed around 20 tents declaring the Bab Al-Shams Palestinian village, in the area where Israel illegally declared it intends to build thousands of homes for Jewish settlers, east of occupied east Jerusalem.
The Israeli decision to build the illegal settlements in the occupied state of Palestine came after the Palestinians managed to obtain an observer state status at the UN – General Assembly.
The Israeli decision was met with international condemnation, but the settler-led government of Benjamin Netanyahu, approved the illegal settlement project.
The so-called E1 settlement project aims at linking the Maale Adumim illegal settlement, where 35,000 reside, with occupied East Jerusalem, thus illegally confiscating Palestinian lands and blocking geographical continuity in the occupied West Bank.
This illegal Israeli project would divide the West Bank into two parts, and would completely isolate it from occupied East Jerusalem, an issue that would prevent the establishment of a viable Palestinian state.
Abdullah Abu Rahma, a Palestinian nonviolent activist from the West Bank village on Bil’in, who was also detained when the army attacked and evicted Bab Al-Shams, stated that this village is on private Palestinian land, and that the Palestinians are not invading anybody’s property, as they are establishing a village in the land of Palestine.
“We tied our hands, chained ourselves with each other to prevent the soldiers from removing us”, Abu Rahma said, “The Soldiers violently attacked us, beat us, and injured at least 10”
He added that there will be more nonviolent activities, and that the struggle for Bab Al-Shams, the nonviolent struggle for the liberation of Palestine will continue as the Palestinians are practicing their internationally-guaranteed right.
It is worth mentioning that the Palestine TV was live streaming from Bab Al-Shams, and the army repeatedly tried to interrupt the stream, pushing the reporters, and using large flashlight, pointing them against the camera to disrupt the images.
Wounded Journalist Hafeth Ibrahim
- Palestinians Establish a new Village, Bab Alshams, in Area E1 (alethonews.wordpress.com)
Dozens of Israeli soldiers and policemen are surrounding the new Palestinian village, Bab Al-Shams, preparing to evict and remove the newly installed Palestinian outpost, set-up on Palestinian lands east of occupied East Jerusalem.
The army declared the area as a “closed military zone”, and prevented dozens of activists and residents from reaching it, before handing the Palestinians at the outpost a military order demanding them to remove their outpost and leave the area.
Abdullah Abu Rahma, an activist of the Popular Committee Against the Wall and Settlements in Bil’in village near the central West bank city of Ramallah, stated that the soldiers said that they will use force should the activists refuse to leave the area.
Abu Rahma added that dozens of Israeli soldiers and policemen were deployed in the area, and appear to be preparing to remove it.
“We have nothing but our will and determination, it will not be easy to remove us, we will use our expertise and abilities to remain steadfast”, Abu Rahma said, “It will take at least 800 soldiers to remove the 200 activists currently camping here”.
The activist spent a cold night in the new village, but remained there despite the lack of sheets and warm covers, while several activists burnt some wood to provide as much heat as possible.
One of the activists told the Maan News Agency that despite the cold, “the general atmosphere is pleasant due to the presence of committed activists and friends”.
“We are here enjoying the magnificent view of hills and mountains, close to Jerusalem”, the activist said, “It’s cold, the tents can’t prevent the cold, but we are here to stay”.
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM — A UN report said that the occupation authority is continuing their attacks on Palestinian civilians in the occupied West Bank since the beginning of the current year.
The report issued by UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Palestinian territories OCHA revealed that the occupation has razed 465 Palestinian structures in the West Bank, including 136 houses, since the beginning of 2012, at the rate of 13 buildings per week compared to 12 buildings per week during the previous year.
According to the report, 676 Palestinians were displaced and rendered homeless as a result of these demolitions.
OCHA also reported that the occupation forces issued an order to seize six dunums of land in the village of Khader in the city of Bethlehem, South of the West Bank under the pretext that the land belongs to the occupation, and confiscated also 200 square meters of Palestinian land located near the Ibrahimi Mosque in al-Khalil city.
The UN organization’s weekly report added that the Israeli occupation forces handed over a new military order to confiscate 647 dunums of land belonging to eighty Palestinian families in the villages of Awarta and Burin in Nablus.
The Israeli army has ordered two weeks ago a halt to construction and repair works on 17 Palestinian structures in Khirbet Irza, located near a closed military zone in Tubas.
According to OCHA’s report, since 1967 the occupation army announced the allocation of nearly1 8 per cent of the occupied West Bank’s land for the establishment of closed military zones used for training its troops, which resulted in dramatically reducing the area of land available for housing for Palestinians.
- Report: occupation plans to expand over forty settlements in West Bank (occupiedpalestine.wordpress.com)
- Israeli War against Palestinian Children (intifada-palestine.com)
Rad Khamis checkpoint
Silwan, Jerusalem – The Israeli Ministry of Defence has announced its plans to seal off one of two checkpoints through which the 65,000 Palestinian residents of Shuafat refugee camp can pass to enter Jerusalem. The extension of the Separation Wall and closing of the Ras Khamis checkpoint will occur in contravention to a 2008 High Court of Justice ruling that stated Shuafat Camp requires a total of eight pedestrian and four vehicle crossings before the checkpoint could be closed. The decision will affect not only Shuafat itself but three other villages crowded into the camp: Ras Shehada, Dahiyat al-Salaam and Ras Khamis.
Twenty surveillance cameras were removed from the Ras Khamis border on Sunday, 26 August in preparation for its closing, which is expected to take place next Tuesday. The Separation Wall will then be extended to encircle the new border of Shuafat. The construction of the Wall is expected to further carve up the area, forcing locals to drive and walk through narrow streets, causing traffic congestion and impacting on trade.
- Israel to close Jerusalem crossing (windowintopalestine.blogspot.com)
- Israeli settlers move into Silwan home (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Israel wall used for segregation, not just security (altahrir.wordpress.com)
- Army To Demolish Homes In Silwan (imemc.org)
- 100 Year Old Silwan Building Destroyed by Israel (occupiedpalestine.wordpress.com)
In the vein of its previous documentary project presenting a montage of 24 hours of life in Berlin, the German Zero One film production company has been planning a similar venture on Jerusalem.
Berlin-based Zero One Film will work alongside Palestinian producer Daoud Kuttab and newly founded Israeli prodco 24 Communications. The latter is a joint venture between Israeli prodcos Pie Films and Inosan, which worked on the original version of HBO hit In Treatment.
Medienboard Berlin Brandenburg and Jerusalem Film Fund are backing 24h Jerusalem and the producers hope to secure the remaining €400,000 (US$500,000) of its €2.4m budget at MipTV this week.
Palestinian directors have now pulled out of the project – they were unaware of the presence of the Israeli production company, nor of backing from the Jerusalem Film Fund, which is in turn funded by the Jerusalem Development Authority. Current activities of the JDA include expropriating Palestinian land in East Jerusalem for parks. The JDA received “40 million NIS in 2005 to develop green spaces around the Old City of Jerusalem”.
Designating urban space as a national park is not only easier but cheaper too, the state having no obligation to compensate owners.
The Jerusalem municipality leaves the creation of these parks to the National Planning Authority (in the Ministry of Interior), Bimkom noted, which deals more with the protection of nature and heritage than the rights of Jerusalem’s residents.
The disparity between the management of space for West Jerusalemites compared to their counterparts in the east is stark, with national parks notably absent from the west.
“The Palestinian residents of Jerusalem are crowded and they suffer from extreme neglect and shortage of public infrastructure,” Bimkom architect, Efrat Bar-Cohen, said in a statement.
“The residents are in desperate need of space by which they can improve their quality of life, even if slightly.”
The building of the park will have ramifications beyond the strangling of Issawiya and A-Tur residents.
It will stretch into the E1 area of the West Bank, which represents an important reserve of space for Palestinian development, creating a string of Jewish Israeli-only settlement between the Old City and Ma’ale Adumim settlement.
Elad Kandl is director of the Old City projects at the Jerusalem Development Authority, whose website describes their work as rehabilitating and conserving the Old City.
He expressed succinctly Israel’s aim of curbing Palestinian development in Jerusalem. “When you make it a national park,” he told The Jerusalem Post in reference to open space, “you keep the status quo.”
The JDA, which operates under the 1988 Jerusalem Development Authority Law, was established to further entrench Israeli control over the city and is also involved in the Jerusalem light rail project.
Indeed, the Prime Minister’s Office and the mayor of Jerusalem sponsored a JDA program to work toward this goal. On its website the JDA is very clear about the role of the Jerusalem light rail project, stating that “The investment in the light railway project was one of the government’s key strategies to empower Jerusalem as a capital.”
The JDA is also an instrumental actor in the proposed construction of 1,400 new housing units in the Gilo Jewish settlement colony, located near Bethlehem in occupied East Jerusalem.
In this light, the involvement of the JDA in the 24h Jerusalem project clearly designates the film as unacceptable normalisation with the Israeli occupation.
The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) has defined normalization specifically in a Palestinian and Arab context “as the participation in any project, initiative or activity, in Palestine or internationally, that aims (implicitly or explicitly) to bring together Palestinians (and/or Arabs) and Israelis (people or institutions) without placing as its goal resistance to and exposure of the Israeli occupation and all forms of discrimination and oppression against the Palestinian people.”  This is the definition endorsed by the BDS National Committee (BNC).
One Palestinian participant in the 24h Jerusalem project, Enas aL-Muthaffar, made clear his objections to the film project in an open letter on August 25th. He reveals that he was not informed at all about the Israeli production partner. Nor were the Palestinian directors to be involved in the editing process.
To whom It May Concern,
When Kuttab Productions first contacted me early July, it failed to mention that Israel is part of this project, although I specifically inquired about this issue. And then again, you sent me an email on July 9th, which also failed to mention that Israel is in fact part of your film production. I only knew about Israel being a co-producer of Jerusalem 24 when I asked specific technical questions about the characters, crew and the editing phase. I was surprised to know that the selected filmmakers are only requested to film on September 6th and that we have no say in the editing phase. Then, you said: The editing phase will happen in Germany where the Palestinian and the Israeli films will be edited in one feature length documentary. This is not information that can simply be passed on in such a way!
I reject to be part of Jerusalem 24: a German/ Israeli/ Palestinian co-production for the following two main reasons:
· I respect and support Palestinian civil society campaign for Boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel until it complies with International law and respects Palestinian rights.
· I refuse to be part of a peace propaganda machine that continues to ignore Israel’s cruel colonization of Palestine.
There is a longer list of reasons related to the current steps undertaken by Israel that aim at changing the demographic, social and cultural composition of the city of Jerusalem – to name few:
· Advocating the largest act of de-population of East Jerusalem since 1967.
· Continuing expansion of illegal settlements.
· Renewal of closure of East Jerusalem Institutions.
· Building restrictions and home demolitions.
· Revoking residency rights and denying family reunification.
· Continued illegal diggings under al-Aqsa mosque compound.
There is no way in which I can separate my art from who I am, from my life, from my duty to resist everything and anything that doesn’t acknowledge my right to exist on my land in freedom and dignity.
Enas I. aL-Muthaffar
Enas’ stance is confirmed in an Al Akbar piece [Google translation]:
Yesterday, I sent a group of Palestinian institutions and individuals working in the field of culture and art message to «Book of production» declare the absolute rejection of various forms of normalization with the occupier and «standing in the face of attempts to penetrate the cultural front as the line of the clash with the basic occupation, and intellectuals were and will remain the spearhead in the clash of cultures and civilizations with brute occupation force.
Haidar Eid further affirms terms of the PACBI boycott relevant to the joint film project [Google translation]:
That all meetings and projects that combine between the Palestinians and the Israelis must be placed in the proper context against the occupation and other forms of Israeli oppression of the Palestinians, and most importantly that these meetings be pro-boycott by directives issued by the National Committee of the province.
According to Amira Hass, 20 directors, including Israelis, have now pulled out of the film project in support of the cultural boycott and filming, scheduled for September 6, has been halted.
- Israeli settlers move into Silwan home (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Analysis: Is Israel’s permit policy political, or economic? (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Israel to Annex More of East Jerusalem (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- New Israeli military complex planned in Jerusalem (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Army To Demolish Homes In Silwan (imemc.org)
- Settlers Hurl Stones At Palestinian Homes In Jerusalem (imemc.org)
JERUSALEM – Israeli settlers, accompanied by police guards, moved into a section of a Palestinian home in East Jerusalem on Sunday, locals said.
Israeli authorities had informed the Hamdullah family they would have to evacuate part of their home in the Silwan neighborhood of Ras al-Amud after a court ruling said it belonged to settlers, local group the Wadi al-Hilweh information center said.
The family says they have been living on the premises since 1952 after purchasing the land from the al-Ghoul family.
Israeli daily Haaretz said that settler patron Irwin Moskowitz bought the land in 1990 from Orthodox Jewish groups, who claimed they had bought the land before 1948.
In 2005 a Jerusalem court ruled that the family must evacuate all buildings constructed after 1989.
Moskowitz wants to expand Maaleh Hazeitim, the largest settlement in East Jerusalem, on the land.
The Hamdullah home lies in a critical neighborhood near the Al-Aqsa Mosque, the site of a number of settlements and controversial Israeli archeological digs, which residents fear are intended to cement Israeli control over the area.
Israel annexed East Jerusalem — regarded as the capital of a future Palestinian state — after a 1967 war, a move never recognized by the international community.
- Army To Demolish Homes In Silwan (imemc.org)
- Settlers Hurl Stones At Palestinian Homes In Jerusalem (imemc.org)
- Army Invades Al-Aqsa Mosque, Attack Worshipers, kidnaps two (occupiedpalestine.wordpress.com)