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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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Census Teams Finished Practical Training & Will Start Implementation Early January 2009

JCSER Warns of the Implications of the Censes and its Exploitation by Israel to Reduce Palestinian Presence

Jerusalem - A report issued by JCSERs Research & Documentation Unit noted that the census teams at the Israeli Interior Ministry have finished their practical and theoretical trainings. The teams, who are assigned the duty to conduct a comprehensive census for the Palestinian population, are expected to start the census after the Jewish feasts, maximum early January 2008.

The city of Jerusalem has recently witnessed a state of confusion and chaos amongst Palestinian Jerusalemites after the Interior Ministrys teams raided citizens houses in different parts of the city to conduct a random census for the Palestinian residents of Jerusalem.

The report referred to testimonies of some citizens whose houses have been raided by the census teams. Mohammad Awad, a Palestinian resident of Beit Hanina was quoted as saying, The Interior Ministrys teams came at 23:00 night. I thought that they will confiscate or break into the house to search for someone. But after they asked for the ID cards and started investigating with me and with my wife, it turned out to me that they were really from the census. Mr. Awad revealed that the teams didnt conduct census for three apartments in the same building. Some of the questions were embarrassing, others were commonsense, and others were repeated. He was told by one of the team members that the census is preliminary, not final.

Sixty-one-year-old Khayriyeh Odeh, a Palestinian Jerusalemite resident of Shufat of Occupied East Jerusalem, said, At 20:00 pm, one employee and a number of border guards knocked at the door and roamed in the house after they took my ID card. They asked me about my children and who lives in the house and how I handle my affairs in my house after the death of my husband.

The report also referred to a statement issued earlier by JCSERs legal unit. The statement confirmed that The random census being conducted by Israeli teams in Palestinian neighborhoods in Jerusalem over the past few months is training carried out by the Israeli Interior Ministry for its teams who are assigned the duty to conduct the census. The entire process hasn't officially started yet. The purpose of this training is to discover some problems and obstacles that may face these teams in the future, and try to overcome and avoid them. The training also aims to qualify the census teams to do their job properly.

The report noted that the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics announced on 29 August 2008 through an announcement published on page (9) of the Arabic daily Al-Quds, tender no. 7680. The announcement reads: Within the framework of the population census that will conducted in all villages and cities, 12 regional departments & offices will be opened: Eilat, Ashdod, Beersheba, Haifa, Tiberias, Judea & Samaria (the office will be opened in Jerusalem), Jerusalem, Carmel, Netanya (the office will be opened in Al-Khdeirah), Petah Tegva, Rishon Zion (the office will be opened in Azor) & Tel Aviv. The operation dates for the coordinators will be during the period between 26 October 2008 and 02 March 2009.

Declared Goals of the Census

The Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics, supervised by government employees specialized in statistics who are directly connected to the Israeli Prime Ministers Office, who in turn appoint the head of the bureau, announced via its website that the population censes for the year 2008 will start at the end of the year. The census will include all the population throughout Israel for the purpose of obtaining a comprehensive and reliable picture of their living conditions and their demographic, social and economic situation. The data includes information about age, sex, country of origin, year of immigration, social status, living conditions, marriage, number of children, education, living standard, and patterns of travel.

The census constitutes the most detailed source of information about the population, including small communities and population sectors and neighborhoods. In addition, the information obtained from the census will be used by decision-makers nationally and locally, and represents an opportunity to improve the quality of peoples life.

Those in charge for planning for the census try to distinguish it from previous censuses through employing certain statistical techniques. These include developing the bureau of statistics for the purpose of minimizing the use of resources and alleviating the burdens of participants response. The census merges between a sample of 20% of families through conducting personal interviews with them and the administrative date based on the population record. In small communities, complete census will be conducted for the entire population. The field work will be conducted during the period between October 2008 and March 2009.

Timetable

Based on the data mentioned in the report, the census has already begun in (August - beginning of September 2008) through recruiting and training some 2,500 persons, including office directors, supervisors, and coordinators, in addition to around 2,100 coordinators and setting up 12 regional offices.

The period between 07 and 18 December 2008 was determined to know the field, to choose the samples to be included in the census, and to count all the houses and buildings without entering them.

The period between 28 September 08 19 February 2009 was determined for reaching the employees, who are provided with cards with their pictures, to the houses that were registered in the previous stage for interviewing the families chosen for the sample. The interview will be documented on a laptop computer, and it will be conducted with one family member aged 18 years or above who will be in the house when the employees get the house on 27 December 2008, the date set for the census. The interview will take between 20 and 30 minutes. Families that are not found in their houses on that day will get a questionnaire that the family will fill in, and the employees will collect afterwards.

The period between March and May 2009 will be for making interviews via telephone with those who were not in their houses when the employees came. During the interview, the correct address will be verified.

The collected data will constitute official information for Israel and the public have the right to obtain the data. The census is applied in accordance with Israel's statistical official law (the new text) for the year 1972. According to law, every person is obliged to respond to the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics. To achieve this duty, the statistics law shall be published, signed by the Israeli Prime Minister.

Confidentiality & Publication of Results

According to Israeli law, Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics is obliged to maintain secrecy in work. The census data will be published in a brief statistical booklet. Personal details about the persons who are interviewed will not be published. Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics, according to law, is prohibited from providing any information to any institution, either governmental or public or commercial or private, that may determine individuals ID card.

The Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics will publish the results of the census to the public in 2010 via its website, on CDs, and in printed booklets.

Census between Yesterday & TodayFollowing its occupation of the Holy City, Israeli occupation authorities conducted censes in the city of Jerusalem. Following the census, blue ID cards were granted to those who have been included in the census (66,000 persons). According to these cards, Palestinians are granted the right to permanent residency in their city.

Israels 1950 Absentee Property Law was applied to every Jerusalemite who was absent during the census. The law stipulates that the property of such an absentee would be transferred to the Custodian of Absentee Property, with no possibility of appeal of compensation. In addition, Palestinians who were absent are not allowed to enter the city unless after obtaining a special permit from the Israeli authorities. Such permits are granted only to those who havent committed any security violations - according to Israeli interpretations. Moreover, around 30,000 Palestinian Jerusalemites who live in the surrounding villages of Jerusalem have not been granted the right to residency in the city. As a result, thousands of Palestinian Jerusalemites have lost the right to return to their city.

According to the UN Office for Humanitarian Affairs, with the construction of the Apartheid Wall, around 114,000 Palestinian Jerusalemites have completely been isolated and taken out from the municipal boundaries of Jerusalem. The Apartheid Wall, with a total length of 168 km, was mainly set up to isolate Jerusalem from the rest of the West Bank. Entire Palestinian families have completely been disrupted and their basic rights have been violated as acknowledged by international legitimacy. In its advisory opinion, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) endorsed the illegality of the construction of the Apartheid Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (oPt), including Jerusalem, calling on Israel to immediately stop it, dismantling the parts built inside the (Opt), and compensating those affected by the construction of the Wall. It is noted that the construction of the Wall was stopped for several months due to lack of funding. However, Israeli occupation authorities allocated the amount of 250 million shekels on 15 February 2008 to resume the construction works.

In light of the 2020 plan, which was laid down by the West Jerusalem Municipality for the city of Jerusalem, Jerusalem especially the Old City, will be turned into a center for the Jewish people after:

  • Reducing the population intensity;
  • Increasing financial aid;
  • Encouraging institutions which are active in the field of settlement to enhance its control over the Arab buildings;
  • And achieving the primary goal of turning Jerusalem into a uninational Jewish city.

A study prepared by JCSERs legal unit concluded that among the declared goals of the new structural map for Jerusalem is to create a planning frame to continue developing the city as a capital for Israel and a ruling center, with maintaining its own values, and securing a better standard of life for its people. The real goal of this new plan is to maintain the demographic balance within the municipal boundaries of Jerusalem, where Jews maintain at least 70% of the demographic presence, while Arabs maintain 30% or less. This can be done by preventing the negative immigration among the Jews from the city, especially that some statistics expected that the percentage of Arab citizens in Jerusalem will reach 60% by 2020, which means that the Jewish people will become minority in the city.

Expected Impact of the Census

In addition to the state of confusion and chaos that the census may create amongst Palestinian Jerusalemites due to the failure of the Israeli official parities to provide adequate information about the census and its objectives, the census is expected to cause numerous problems amongst Jerusalemites, most importantly include:

1) Housing: It is a well-known fact that Palestinian Jerusalemites suffer from a severe housing crisis due to policies & restrictive measures and practices taken by the Jerusalem Municipality against the Arab construction in the city. Such policies & measures ignore the importance of laying down structural plans for the Arab neighborhoods and place numerous obstacles in the way of Arab construction in the city. Palestinian Jerusalemites suffer from the exorbitant costs required for issuing building licenses. Building half a dunum e.g. cost 109,492 shekels, including file opening and payment of various taxes. Palestinians, of whom 67% live under poverty line according to municipal data, and due to the vital need for housing given the natural growth of population, have been forced to build without obtaining building licenses from the Jerusalem Municipality. According to municipal data, around 15,000 Arab apartments are not licensed, while 38.2% apartments out of the total number of apartments owned by Arabs (33,638) are licensed according to the 2004 Jerusalem statistical yearbook. The total area allocated by the Jerusalem Municipality for the Arab construction in Jerusalem is limited, given the fact that Palestinians in Jerusalem (with a total population of 230,000) need around 28,000 housing units by the year 2020. Huge building fines are imposed on Palestinian Jerusalemites, reaching up to 93,304,743.7 shekels between the years 2001 and 2005. The Jerusalem Municipality allocates the amount of 2.5 million shekels of its budget for the demolition of Arab houses in East Jerusalem. Moreover, the Jerusalem Municipality adopts a systematic policy of restricting Arab construction in the city, while it encourages Jewish construction. Amir Heshen, Former Jerusalem Mayors Advisor Tedy Colic, said in a book entitled (Separated & Unequal, the Internal Story of Israels Ruling in East Jerusalem): Colics 1970 plan included the principles on which housing policy, confiscation of land owned by Palestinians, development of large Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem and restriction of development in Palestinian neighborhoods are still based.In his book entitled, Discrimination in the Heart of the Holy City, Meir Margalit summarizes the municipal policies, they are basically based on racial grounds that can be seen easily through the lens of racism. The Municipalitys policy can be classified as a racial discrimination void of any solid ideology. It is a racial discrimination implemented in the relative absence of the national or religious grudge. The census may force many Palestinians, especially those living behind the Apartheid Wall to return to Jerusalem to be included in the census in their sought to maintain their residency right in Jerusalem. Some will be forced to rent apartments or to live with their relatives in Jerusalem, thus increasing the pressure and the demand for housing. This will raise the rents, currently ranging between $500 and $800, thus contributing to aggravating the economic crisis amongst Palestinian Jerusalemites. The population crowdedness accompanied by an increase in poverty levels and unemployment rates amongst Palestinian Jerusalemites, of whom the youth sector constitutes the largest portion, will contribute to emerging numerous social problems in the city. Moreover, numerous problems are expected to arise about property in city, or disputes may occur between tenants and landowners who some of them resort to Israeli courts to obtain evacuation court orders, as currently taking place. 2) Politically: The report refers to the political impact of the census and the Oslo Agreement, which was signed by Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and Israel on 13 September 1993. According to the agreement, both parties are prohibited from taking the initiative or any step before the final status negotiations. The Road Map, which was prepared by the Quartet based on US President George Bushs vision about the Palestinian and Israeli states and which he presented in his speech of 24 June 2003, calls on the Israeli government to freeze all settlement activities and dismantle settlement spots. During the Annapolis Conference, a Middle East Peace Conference, held on 27 November 2007 at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland in the US, participants confirmed the importance of reviving the Road Map. During the Annapolis Conference, Palestinians and Israelis vowed to become involved in an intensive negotiation process for the purpose of reaching a peace agreement by the end of 2008. However, Ehud Olmerts statements expressing his readiness to reach a settlement and to deal with all fundamental issues contradicted with his actions on the ground. Jewish settlement has been intensified in Jerusalem in an unprecedented manner during the first nine months of the Annapolis Conference. According to a report issued by the Palestinian Monitoring Group affiliated with the PLO Negotiation Affairs Department, 3,484 settlement units are being built in Occupied Jerusalem. Israel also continues its excavation works in three tunnels near Haram Ash-Sharif and Silwan. It also continues its construction of street no. 20 which swallowed large areas of Beit Hanina, with a total length of 4 km and a width of 10 meters. The railway project in Shufat and Sheikh Jarrah is underway to connect the settlements of Pisgat Zeve, Nevi Yacoub and the French Hill with West Jerusalem. On the other hand, Israeli government proposed eight tenders to build a total of 2,210 settlement housing units in Jerusalem, an increase of 16 double than the situation before Annapolis. Israeli government approved the construction of 4,370 settlement units in the Jewish settlements built in Jerusalem, while it announced for the construction of 5,247 settlement units in Jerusalem. On 12 October 2008, official inauguration of the Jewish synagogue (known as Izhaq Tent) was held in the heart of the Islamic Quarter in Jerusalem near the Al-Aqsa Mosque.Moreover, Israeli occupation authorities intend to build 60 new settlement units in the Jewish settlement of Maale Zeitim in Ras Al-Amud, and 200 settlement units in Wadi Al-Joz on the rubbles of 40 Arab houses living in the area. Ehud Olmert failed to make significant progress in achieving peace, continued the closure of Palestinian organizations in Jerusalem, and prevented any activity for the PNA in these organizations. Israels policy of house demolition continues. Palestinian Jerusalemites were denied their right to residency through Israels confiscation of their Jerusalem ID cards and taking thousands of them out from the municipal boundaries of Jerusalem to determine the borders of the city unilaterally. The report warned that Israels continued policy of land confiscation in Jerusalem, concurred with the economic pressures and racial policies being practiced against Palestinians, will plant further mines that may explode in waves of violence in the future that no one can predict its volume and power. Palestinian youth who constitute the majority of the population have lost hope of a promising future in light of the increasing unemployment rates after being prevented from working inside Israel, especially those who have been arrested for security reasons. Jerusalem & International Law

Referring to the Israeli measures and Israels violations of the international law, the report deals with the position of the international law and the international legitimate resolutions, confirming the illegality of acquiring the land by force, and which consider Jerusalem an occupied city on which the rules of the International Humanitarian Law, especially the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention, approved by Israel on 06 July 1901, are applied. Also the regulations annexed to The Hague Convention for the year 1907 are applied to Jerusalem. This was re-affirmed by the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) issued on 09 July 2004, thus forcing the occupying power (Israel) to comply with the rules of the military occupation law. The occupation authority temporarily acquires sovereignty of land and is prohibited from departing or transferring part of its civilian population to the land it occupies. It is also prohibited from imposing collective punishment and destroying private or public property and should respect cultural property. The occupying power doesnt acquire the ownership of real estates in the occupied territories.

International legitimate resolutions issued by the UN Security Council and the UN General Assembly confirm that the measures taken by Israel to change to the status of Occupied East Jerusalem and its population structure are illegal, null and void. Jewish settlements in the (oPt), including Jerusalem constitute a grave violation of the international law, and an obstacle in the way of achieving peace, economic and social development for the Palestinian people.

Frequent violations by Israel and its failure to comply with the international resolutions and agreements signed between both sides may undermine the Middle East peace process and threaten global peace and security.

JCSERs Director General,says that the international community is obliged to work to end any obstacle that prevents the Palestinian people from exercising their right to self-determination in their homeland, and to build an independent Palestinian state, with Jerusalem as its capital. Out of the worlds commitment to the Fourth Geneva Convention, the international community should verify Israels compliance with and abidance by the rules and terms of this Convention, and take practical steps to end the occupation in the (Opt), especially in Jerusalem. He added that the international community shouldnt leave both parties to continue in futile negotiations that dont make any progress at the time Israel continues to impose facts on the ground and to draw borders unilaterally.