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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: Nov 22, 2017

Political context

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Israeli policies and practices in Jerusalem

Ever since 1948, Israels objectives in Jerusalem have been to establish irreversible and exclusive control over the city. Since 1967, a framework has been created to integrate East Jerusalem into Israel and to separate it from the other Occupied Territories. Policies have been implemented to ensure Israels domination, and to prevent possible re-partition of the city by ensuring territorial integrity and a Jewish demographic majority. These policies race with time in attempts to create new facts on the ground before entering any kind of political settlement related to Jerusalem. In practice, this led to a range of measures designed to undermine and reduce Palestinian presence in Jerusalem. These discriminatory policies and practices are interrelated and strengthen each other. See separate fact sheets about Israeli policies and practices on
Arnona Tax, Closures and checkpoints, Education, Home Demolitions, Land Confiscation, Municipal Services, Residency Rights, and Social Security.

Political context of Palestinians in Jerusalem

Palestinian residents in Jerusalem have the right to vote in municipal elections, but not in national Israeli elections. However, the core of Palestinian political strategy in Jerusalem has always been to refrain from doing anything that acknowledges the legitimacy of Israeli rule or recognition of Israels sovereignty over the city. Since 1967, therefore, most of the Palestinian residents of the city have consequently boycotted Israeli municipal elections. Other measures have been to refuse the acceptance of Israeli citizenship; refusal to accept compensation for expropriated land; refraining from using the Israeli legal system as an avenue of resource; refusal to surrender control over education and curriculum to the Israeli Municipality; avoiding any formal dealings with the Municipality. The result is that Palestinians have no say at all in what goes on within the Municipality.

Today, it appears that Palestinians in Jerusalem may be more ready than in the past to integrate where unavoidable into Israeli society (i.e. social benefits) and make some changes in their political strategies for surviving on a day-to-day basis in the city. These shifts appear to be purely pragmatic and can be characterised as one of seeking ways to take the initiative to proactively demand equal rights and treatment to improve conditions of daily life without necessarily conferring political legitimacy on what remains an unacceptable political reality for most Palestinian Jerusalemites.

However, there is no shared opinion on this. Some think they inadvertently promote the goal of securing Israeli sovereignty when pushing to improve the quality of life. In fighting to bring about equalisation and to retain permanent residency to have access to Israeli social and health insurances, Palestinians push for policies that bolster the very Israeli rule over the city that they wish to end. (Jerusalem Journal; 1999) It can be concluded that although no legislative measures exist according to Israeli law to prevent Palestinians from participating in local political life, doing so would contradict the fact that East Jerusalem is illegal annexed territory.

Palestinian residents in Jerusalem are allowed to vote and to be elected in Palestinian Authority elections, citizens are not. In 1996, 40 percent of the total population of Jerusalem registered to vote. This was already low compared to other districts. However, the voters participation in the Jerusalem district was the lowest of all regions. The low level of registration, low number of participants, and bad organisation expressed Jerusalems distance from the political centre. Another explanation for this low number is the presence of Israeli forces. Israel made it difficult for voters to reach the polls by placing large contingents of policemen around the five polling places in East Jerusalem. Furthermore, false rumours and threats about punishments were spread by Israelis right-wing Likud party, including the revocation of their right to live in the city when voting for the Palestinian Authority elections.

Recent developments

Israel decided a long time ago to prevent the establishment of new political institutions in East Jerusalem and to restrict the activity of the existing ones. The Orient House was one of the very few and most prominent Palestinian institutions that existed in Jerusalem until August this year. On 9 August 2001, Israeli security forces closed the Orient house and eight other Palestinian institutions in Jerusalem. Israel said that it suspected these institutions to have relations with the Palestinian Authority. At this moment, there is no official Palestinian institution operating in Jerusalem anymore.

Palestinian organisations, which remain in East Jerusalem, operate under a continues threath of being closed down. For example on February 6, 2002, the Israeli authorities closed down the offices of two organisations representing Palestinian civil society in East Jerusalem: The Land Research Center and the Multi-sectoral Office, which are part of the Arab Studies Society. Another example is an article in the Arabic daily 'Al Hayyat Al-Jadidah' on March 23, 2002. The newspaper reported the following: "The Israeli authorities are planning to launch a new campaign against the Palestinian institutions running in the city of Jerusalem, especially the Jerusalem Center for Social and Economic Rights, and the Union of the Charitable Societies, as part of 'resisting Palestinian activity in Jerusalem'."