Extracts from a summary, May 1995
The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied
Principal Findings of the Report
1. Since the annexation of East Jerusalem in 1967, the Israeli
government has adopted a policy of systematic and deliberate
discrimination against the Palestinian population in all matters
relating to expropriation of land, planning, and building.
2. Examination of Jerusalem municipality documents and declarations
of the city policy-makers indicate that the urban development of
the city is based, first and foremost, on creating a demographic
and geographic reality that will preempt every future effort to
question Israeli sovereignty in East Jerusalem.
3. The Israeli authorities promote extensive building and enormous
investment throughout the Jewish neighborhoods of East Jerusalem,
as the Palestinian popula¬tion is perceived a "demographic
threat" to Israeli control of the city.
As regards construction:
• some 64,870 apartments, constituting some 88% of all the
housing units were built for the Jewish population (about one-half
of them by public construction);
• some 8,890 apartments, constituting some 12% of all the
housing units, were built for the Palestinians, mainly
Since 1990, the gap in the amount of building for the two
populations has contin¬ued to widen.
As regards density:
• at the end of 1993, the average housing density of the
Jewish population was 1.1 persons per room, whereas the average
housing density for the Palestinian popu¬lation was 2.2
persons per room. This gap, which amounts to 100%, is twice as
large as the gap in housing density that had existed in 1967.
• according to estimates, the housing shortage among the
Palestinian population has reached more than 20,000 housing
According to Regulation 43 of the Hague Regulations of 1907, an
occupying coun¬try must continue to apply the legal principles
that were in force when the occupa¬tion began. Imposition of
Israeli law, jurisdiction, and administration on East Jerusalem
clearly contradicts this rule of customary international law.
According to international law, every act of the occupying country
must be tempo¬rary. The Israeli government's building of
thousands of housing units in East Jerusalem for the purpose of
populating the area with large numbers of Jewish residents changed
the map of the city, and created a new demographic, physical,
economic and social sit¬uation totally inconsistent with
temporary change, or with security interests.
Legal Status of East Jerusalem
After the Six-Day War, 70,000 dunums of East Jerusalem and nearby
villages were annexed to the municipal area of West Jerusalem, and
on 27 June 1967, the Israeli authorities imposed the state's law,
jurisdiction, and administration on this territory.
According to international law, an occupying country is not allowed
to annex conquered territory, except as a result of a peace
B'Tselem agrees with the international community's claim that East
Jerusalem is occupied territory, that its status is the same as
that of the rest of the West Bank.
The permanent status of Jerusalem must be determined in the
framework of the negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian
Authority, while ensuring protec¬tion of the human rights of
all persons involved.
Building in East Jerusalem
• in 1993 alone, the last year of which statistics were
published, among the 2,720 residential units completed that year,
only 103, which constitutes 3.8% of all the housing units built
that year, were built in Palestinian neighborhoods.
Housing Density and Needs
Housing density in Jerusalem is higher among Palestinians than
among the Jewish population. As of 1993:
• average housing density per room among Palestinians was
twice as high as among Jews; the density among Jews was 1.1 persons
per room, while among Jerusalem's Palestinians, average density was
2.2 persons per room.
• almost one-third of Jerusalem's Palestinians (32.3 %) lived
in conditions of housing density of more than three persons per
room, as opposed to only 2.4 % among Jews.
According to estimates of planners and architects, the shortage of
housing units among Palestinians exceeds 20,000 residential
Since 1973, no more that 5,700 apartments have been built.2
In 1973, the Israeli government determined that a "demographic
balance" must be maintained between the Jewish and Palestinian
populations in Jerusalem. The goal is to overcome the natural rate
of growth of the Palestinian population, which is a "demographic
problem" in the lexicon of those involved with determining planning
policy for the city.
Every effort is also made to take control of as much land as
possible in the eastern part of the city, and to create Jewish
settlement continuity throughout the entire city.
A document of the Jerusalem municipality from 1978 elaborates on
the consid¬erations that guided the planning authorities in
choosing the areas for new build¬ing in Jerusalem:
Every area of the city that is not settled by Jews is in danger of
being detached from Israel and transferred to Arab control.
Therefore, the administrative principle regarding the area of the
city's municipal juris¬diction must be translated into
practice by building in all parts of that area, and, to begin with,
in its remotest sections.3
The recent decisions of the Israeli government to establish the
Jewish neighborhood of Har Homa in East Jerusalem, and to
expropriate 535 more dunums in East Jerusalem, are the most recent
acts in implementing this policy.
Jerusalem's mayor, Mr. Ehud Olmert, also supports this policy. In
an interview with Ha'aretz in May 1994 Olmert said: "I am relieved
that a process has begun that will bring about a continuity of
Jewish settlement from Neveh Ya'akov southward, toward the city
center, and you will excuse me if I don't go into details." 4
In 1986, the municipality's Planning Policy Section published a
document enti¬tled Development for the Arab Sector, which
defines projects for infrastructure and public institutions for the
Palestinian population by a priority of "degree of
visibil¬ity." The development of the Arab sector has a
"picture window" effect, and it was decided, therefore, that what
will be seen by a large number of people (residents, tourists,
etc.) is important and prominent and receives a grade of five, and
projects that have no impact are grade one. 5
In an interview given by then-mayor Kollek to Ma'ariv immediately
after the Temple Mount massacre in October 1990, he stated:
[Kollek:] We said things without meaning them, and we didn't carry
them out, we said over and over that we would equalize the rights
of the Arabs to the rights of the Jews in the city - empty talk ...
Both Levi Eshkol and Menachem Begin also promised them equal rights
- both violated their promise ... Never have we given them a
feeling of being equal before the law. They were and remain second-
and third-class citizens.
[Question:] And this is said by a mayor of Jerusalem who did so
much for the city's Arabs, who built and paved roads and developed
[Kollek:] Nonsense! Fairy tales! The mayor nurtured nothing and
For Jewish Jerusalem I did something in the past 25 years. For East
Nothing! What did I do? Nothing. Sidewalks? Nothing. Cultural
institutions? Not one. Yes, we installed a sewerage system for them
and improved the water supply. Do you know why? Do you think it was
for their good, for their welfare? Forget it! There were some cases
of cholera there, and the Jews were afraid that they would catch
it, so we installed sewerage and a water system against cholera ...
Expropriation of Lands
Of the 70,000 dunums (4 dunums equal one acre) of land annexed to
Jerusalem fol¬lowing the Six-Day War, 23,500 dunums (slightly
more than a third) were expro¬priated under the Land Ordinance
(Acquisition for Public Purposes, 1943). Most of the expropriated
lands were privately-owned by Arabs, and used exclusively for the
welfare of the Jewish population.
By February 1995, about 38,500 residential units had been built for
approxi¬mately 160,000 Jews on the expropriated land. Not one
housing unit was built on those lands for the Palestinian
population. At a municipal council meeting held in March 1992,
Avraham Kehillah, the deputy mayor and chairperson of the Local
Planning and Building Committee, said: "… As we have done
over the years ... we are indeed encouraging the building of Jewish
neighborhoods in the empty areas the Israeli government
Many of the areas that were expropriated in the initial period
after the annexa¬tion were not put to use until many years
later. It seems, then, that the expropria¬tions were also
intended to deprive the Palestinian population of the possibility
of building on those lands, and to hold them in reserve for future
Jewish neighbor¬hoods. When the same population group always
benefits from the land expropria¬tions, the claim that they
were done "for public purposes" becomes a cloak for a consistent
pattern of discrimination.
"Nothing is more destructive to a society than the feeling of its
people that they are not being treated like others." 8 Since the
annexation of East Jerusalem in 1967, the Israeli government has
adopted a policy of systematic and deliberate discrimina¬tions
against the city's Palestinian population in all matters relating
to expropria¬tion of land, planning and building.
As the Israeli authorities promoted extensive building and enormous
invest¬ment throughout the Jewish neighborhoods of East
Jerusalem, and encouraged Jews to settle there, the authorities, by
their acts and omissions, choke development and building for the
Palestinian population, which is perceived as a "demographic
threat" to Israeli control of the city.
The Israeli authorities make illegitimate use of all the legal and
administrative means available to them, with the goal of realizing
their planning policy based 011 political-national
This policy is a clear violation of international law and the
fundamental princi¬ples of democracy, with grave consequences
for human rights:
A. Flagrant discrimination between the Jewish neighborhoods and
Palestinian neighborhoods as regards planning, building, and
B. An extremely serious housing shortage among the Palestinian
population in the city, and a fundamental violation of their right
to housing. The gap in housing density between the Palestinian
population and the Jewish population doubled since 1967.
The means used to implement this policy are varied, and include
widespread expropriation of lands and use of town planning schemes
to restrict building for the Palestinians.
The blatant use of expropriation in East Jerusalem totally ignores
the basic urban needs of the city's Palestinians. The claim that
the expropriations are intend¬ed to serve a salient public
purpose can be accurate only if the "public" does not consist
exclusively of Jews.
Planning policy for the Palestinian neighborhoods in Jerusalem is
an important element in the overall policy of the Israeli
government. To preserve the demo¬graphic primacy of the Jewish
population, the Israeli government has for years employed two
complementary planning measures. On the one hand, for many years no
town planning schemes were drawn up for the Palestinian
neighborhoods, and approval for existing plans was delayed almost
indefinitely. On the other hand, the authorities prepared town
planning schemes which, instead of con¬tributing to the
development of these neighborhoods and easing the residents'
housing shortage, serve to limit development, reduce the areas
designated for building and strengthen Jewish control in every part
of the city.
The recent decisions of the Israeli government to establish the Har
Homa Jewish neighborhood in East Jerusalem, and to expropriate 535
more dunums in East Jerusalem, are the latest acts implementing
The housing shortage among the Palestinian population can be solved
if the Israeli government and the Jerusalem municipality adopt the
same policy for this popula¬tion that it carried out for 28
years as regards the new Jewish neighborhoods in East Jerusalem.
The policy-makers must take, inter alia, the following steps:
As regards the Palestinian population:
1. Land Allocations: Increase the land allocations intended for
construction for the Palestinian population by:
• designating areas, currently unplanned ("white areas"), for
construction of new Palestinian neighborhoods, such as the area
west of Beit Hanina and Shu'fat, Sha'ar Mizrah, the area northwest
of Kfar Aqeb, and others.
• releasing "green areas" for development, such as the broad
expanses in the neigh¬borhood of Arab a-Sawahrah, the areas in
Ras al-' Amud (bordering on Abu Dis), etc.
These actions would solve the housing problem of most of the
land-owners whose property was proclaimed "green" or "white".
2. Public Construction: Build new Palestinian neighborhoods as
public construc¬tion in a manner comparable to the new Jewish
neighborhoods in East Jerusalem. This would solve housing problems
also for those who do not own land.
3. Building on Expropriated Lands: Build, on lands designated for
Har Homa which were expropriated in 1991, a new Palestinian
neighborhood instead of the planned Jewish neighborhood.
4. Building Percentages: Increase the permitted percentage of
built-up area in Palestinian neighborhoods to the level in the
5. Planning: Prepare a detailed planning scheme that, contrary to
those that have been prepared until now, will meet the needs of the
6. Infrastructure: Allocate, for Palestinian neighborhoods,
infrastructure resources equal to those provided the Jewish
neighborhoods for roads, electricity, sewers, and public
7. Building Permits: Grant, in the context of the expansion of the
town planning schemes, retroactive building permits for structures
built without permit, insofar as demolition is not vital for
8. Palestinians Whose Homes Were Demolished: The widespread
phenomenon of building by Palestinians without permits in Jerusalem
occurred because the author¬ities made every effort to prevent
Palestinians from building legally. Compensate these Palestinians,
or, alternatively, provide them with favorable terms to purchase
apartments that will be built in the new Palestinian
9. Reparcellation: Hasten preparation of the plans for
reparcellation in Palestinian neighborhoods.
10. Land-Settlement Arrangement: Complete the land-settlement
arrangement that the Jordanians had started in East
As regards the Jewish population:
Stop building housing units in existing Jewish neighborhoods of
East Jerusalem, and refrain from establishing new Jewish
neighborhoods, since these actions are contrary to international
1. Jerusalem Municipality. Urban Policy and Working Plans for the
Work Year 1990, internal working paper, July 1990.
2. City Planning Department, Jerusalem Municipality. Local Town
Planning Schemes for Jerusalem - 1978; Explanatory Remarks for the
Discussion by the District Planning and Building Committee (Author:
Yosef Schweid, in charge of Town Planning Scheme), p. 16.
3. Interview with Ehud Olmert by Nadav Shragai, Ha'aretz, May
4. In 1973, there were 15,000 housing units available to the
Palestinian population. In February 1995, 20,900 units were
5. Jerusalem Municipality, City Planning Department, Planning
Policy Section, Transportation Master Plan, Greater Jerusalem,
Development Plan for the Arab Sector, Jerusalem, 1986, p.12.
6. Ma'ariv, 10 October 1990. In fact, notwithstanding Kollek's
claim that a sewerage system was installed for the Palestinian
population in the city, very little has been done in that sphere as
7. Minutes of Municipal Council meeting, 29 March, 1992, Report 49,
8. Justice A. Barak, ruling on HCJ 953/87, Forg'v vs. The Mayor of
Tel Aviv- Yafo.
9. The recommendations presented below are directed to those
currently in control of setting policy in Jerusalem. The future
status will be determined in the framework of negotiations between
Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
These excerpts were chosen and abridged by the editors of the