Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Intensified Israeli Plans to Expel Palestinian Citizens from Jerusalem

Intensified Israeli Plans to Expel Palestinian Citizens from Jerusalem
September 22, 2004

The apartheid wall in Jerusalem is taking on new dimensions, as
Israel plans to continue to "offer services" in the affected east
Jerusalem neighborhoods. This comes in contradiction to a report
published last week that revealed Jerusalem municipal plans to drive
out the Palestinian inhabitants of the city.
According to estimates from Al Quds, a Palestinian daily newspaper,
60,000 inhabitants in the neighborhoods of Qalandia, Kufur Aqab,
Shufat, Abu Dis and Dahiyat al Barid, will face travel restrictions.
Hence, the Israeli Jerusalem Municipality announced plans to
establish a new coordinating office in order to facilitate the
movement of Jerusalem residency card holders.

The plan also includes creating 11 "gates" for the residents of
these neighborhoods, which includes the paving of five new roads
that will offer greater access. After the completion of the wall,
the Israeli Civil Administration will allegedly be implementing the
first phase of providing services to those neighborhoods; however,
no budgets have been announced to date, which casts doubt on the
veracity of such plans ever being implemented.

These plans may be a cover for the previous week's announcement that
the Jerusalem Municipality is planning to push many of east
Jerusalem 's inhabitants out of the city boundaries. The most
threatened residents will be those in the Old City of Jerusalem,
whom Israel is planning to pay off, according to Issa Samandar of
the Palestinian Land Defense Committee, who warned of this imminent
danger facing east Jerusalem at press conference last Thursday.
Israel will most likely use the exodus of Palestinians from the city
to strip them of their residency rights there, hence, denying them
any further access to their places of work, study and worship.

Samandar, however, is confident that these Israeli plans will not
prevail, because people understand fully well what Israel is trying
to do and will not stand for it. Israel has always had ambitions to
completely control Jerusalem , and in 1991, all covert attempts to do
so, suddenly became a reality with the onset of the Gulf War.
Curfews were imposed and checkpoints were erected; hence,
restrictions of movement began, which gradually worsened to the
conditions they are today.

Settlements surrounding Jerusalem have also been part of the plan to
deny any natural growth and expansion for east Jerusalem
neighborhoods. While these settlements have expanded to
unprecedented size, nearby Palestinian areas face immense
difficulties in obtaining building permits to house ever-expanding
families. Palestinians then resort to building without permits, and
live in perpetual fear of seeing their homes being demolished by
Israeli bulldozers.

While the route of the apartheid wall will allegedly enable some
east Jerusalem residents to retain their rights in the city, many
Jerusalem District villages will not be so "fortunate". The wall
will completely isolate villages such as Bido, not only from
Jerusalem itself, but also from the surrounding villages. This is
catastrophic for these villages, as Bido has been central to their
livelihood, their children's schooling and immediate access to basic
health care.

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