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Palestinians marking the 64 anniversary of al-Nakba (catastrophe) with protests, while Israeli security reacted with conducted arrests campaigns on May 15Palestinians marking the 64 anniversary of al-Nakba (catastrophe) with protests, while Israeli security reacted with conducted arrests campaigns on May 15Palestinians marking the 64 anniversary of al-Nakba (catastrophe) with protests, while Israeli security reacted with conducted arrests campaigns on May 15Palestinians marking the 64 anniversary of al-Nakba (catastrophe) with protests, while Israeli security reacted with conducted arrests campaigns on May 15Palestinians marking the 64 anniversary of al-Nakba (catastrophe) with protests, while Israeli security reacted with conducted arrests campaigns on May 15Palestinians marking the 64 anniversary of al-Nakba (catastrophe) with protests, while Israeli security reacted with conducted arrests campaigns on May 15Palestinians marking the 64 anniversary of al-Nakba (catastrophe) with protests, while Israeli security reacted with conducted arrests campaigns on May 15Palestinians marking the 64 anniversary of al-Nakba (catastrophe) with protests, while Israeli security reacted with conducted arrests campaigns on May 15Palestinians marking the 64 anniversary of al-Nakba (catastrophe) with protests, while Israeli security reacted with conducted arrests campaigns on May 15Palestinians marking the 64 anniversary of al-Nakba (catastrophe) with protests, while Israeli security reacted with conducted arrests campaigns on May 15

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Today: Oct 23, 2017

Israeli Tourism Ministry Studies the Possibility of Re-Classifying Arab-Owned Hotels in East Jerusalem

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In a recent meeting, Israeli Tourism Ministry officials have agreed to review urgent requests for aid to Arab-owned hotels in East Jerusalem, in the face of tremendous losses by hoteliers one of the consequences of the ongoing Israeli Occupation.

Tourism Ministry officials have promised delegations from the Arab Hotel Association (AHA) and the Jerusalem Center for Social & Economic Rights (JCSER) that they will study a set of requests submitted by the Association through JCSER lawyers Farid Mahajneh and Dina Shibli. The requests include: reclassifying the Palestinian-owned hotels in East Jerusalem, and granting the hotels tax reductions in consideration of the extremely difficult economic situation in the city.

Included in the AHAs delegation were its director, Raed Saadeh, and Association members Fahmi Nashashibi and Yousef Daher. The three were accompanied by JCSER lawyers Farid Mahajneh and Dina Shibli [in their capacity as the lawyers designated to follow up on the case].

The Israeli delegation included the Deputy Director General, the director of the tourist services department at the Ministry, and hotel, trade, and tourist services officials.

JCSER lawyer Farid Mahajneh said that during the meeting, problems faced by the Arab hotel sector in East Jerusalem were outlined. Participants discussed the importance of taking measures to alleviate the economic pressures faced by the Arab hotels: granting tax reductions - taking into account the economic recession in the city, and reclassifying hotels in terms of grades, in order to allow their owners to obtain relevant privileges and financial aid.

Mr. Mahajneh clarified that the Israeli delegation was provided with crucial data concerning the hotels in question and the severe financial crisis faced by their owners. The Israeli officials will be provided with additional information, he added.

JCSER lawyer Dina Shibli said that, after reviewing the situation faced by the Arab tourism sector, it was agreed that the Ministry will follow up on the Arnona (municipal property) tax issue in East Jerusalem with the Jerusalem Municipality in order to reconsider the current classification system, and will discuss with the Ministry of Finance the possibility of granting East Jerusalems hotels tax reductions as an exceptional case.

Furthermore, the Israeli officials promised to study the Associations request that work permits be granted to West Bank Palestinian hotel workers, in addition to launching a promotional campaign for the hotels - encouraging tourism - and organizing a special training course aimed at retraining East Jerusalem laborers to work in the citys hotels.

According to data recently gathered by the Arab Hotel Association, of the 36 hotels in East Jerusalem, eight have declared bankruptcy in recent years, as a result of the sharp economic decline. Meanwhile, the estimated 2003 Arnona tax debts of 22 hotels totaled more than 12 million shekels. For 2004, the total is expected to increase to 17 million shekels.

With room occupancy in Palestinian East Jerusalem hotels reaching no more than 9% [in comparison with 30% in West Jerusalem and 42% in Israel], the Arnona tax bills constitute approximately 40% of East Jerusalem hotels total income.

JCSER Director General described the situation currently faced by the East Jerusalem hotel sector as the worst since the Israeli Occupation of the city in June 1967. East Jerusalems hotels have never been through this situation before; hotels have been forced to dismiss employees, while others have had to declare bankruptcy and shut down altogether, saidJCSER's Director

And, while area hotels have been suffering from a severe financial crisis, they have seen no relief in terms of Arnona tax debts. The Jerusalem Municipality has - instead of granting tax reductions in light of the economic situation - continued to lodge property tax cases against hotels, added JCSER's Director.