Sunday, 10 September 2017

Al-Quds University Human Rights Clinic

The Al-Quds University Human Rights Clinic

The Al-Quds University Human Rights Clinic, based in the Muslim Quarter of Old City in Jerusalem, exists to provide pro bono legal advice to Palestinian Jersualemites who face, amongst much else, housing and residency policies designed to discriminate against and alter the Palestinian population of Jerusalem. The purpose for these policies is to create a Palestinian minority to never exceed 40% of the city’s population, and a Jewish majority to never fall beneath 60% of the city’s population.

The two most overt and calculating tactics used by the Israeli authorities to establish these
demographic designs are, firstly, to remove housing options for Palestinians through the use of mass eviction, home demolition, purposefully inadequate construction of livable property, institutional discrimination against building permits for Palestinian applicants, and a slew of legislation with the explicit intent to deny Palestinians access to housing in Jerusalem, thus forcing them to leave the city. The second method involves a systematic and coordinated attack on the residency status of Palestinians through complex policies that impose strict conditions on Palestinians who must constantly meet draconian requirements to preserve the right to work and abide in Jerusalem, with the slightest infringement making them vulnerable to having their permanent residency status revoked and being stripped of even the token legal protection residency status affords.

The intent of the Israeli authorities to deliberately control the demographics of Jerusalem is a very explicit and transparent objective, with the Israeli government website unapologetically detailing both the design and objectives of their discriminatory policies in the publicly accessible “Israel 2020: Master Plan for Israel in the 21st Century” which emphatically describes Palestinian land and people as “poor”, “empty” and “eligible for conquering”.

An example of the policies employed by the Israeli government to engineer shifts in the population is the Center of Life Policy, which demands Palestinians intensively demonstrate to the authorities that their working, family and personal life necessitate legal residency in the city. The standards set to demonstrate viability for residency are sufficiently obstinate that Palestinians must orient their lives around satisfying unreasonable criteria to prove residency, for example being unable to leave the city territory for longer than six months else be susceptible to having residency status revoked and property claimed by settlers. Since the annexation of East Jerusalem in 1967 more than 14,500 Palestinians have had their residency status revoked. This reduction in the Palestinian population coincided with an increase in the Jewish population caused by the policy of universal citizenship offered to all Jews from abroad.
Another factor facilitating the expulsion of Palestinians and the immigration of Jews is the authorities legal support for descendents of Jews who fled Jerusalem after 1948 to reclaim abandoned property, despite the habitation of Palestinians having resided in these properties for more than half a century. While a legal argument does exist supporting the challenge that the property rightfully belongs to those forced to flee as refugees, this concern for property rights does not extend to the hundreds of thousands of displaced Palestinians who also have been forced to flee because of conflict, instability and persecution. This double standard shows clearly the design of social engineering motivating the judicial apartheid between Jewish Israelis and Palestinians.

Favouritism and categorical discrimination in the areas of planning permission, construction of housing and the allocation of municipal funds further illustrate the disparity in the attitudes of the authorities in their treatment of Jewish Israelis and Palestinians. Between the divided East and West Jerusalem, the vast majority of building violations occurred in the western part of the city at 78.4% compared to 21.5% in the eastern section. Yet only 27% of buildings in West Jerusalem were subject to demolition orders compared to 84% in East Jerusalem. These disparities continue in how Jerusalem’s municipal expenditure disproportionately allocates funds between the Jewish Israeli and Palestinian populations, with almost 90% of funds going to Jewish Israeli population which accounts for 63% of the population, and approximately 10% on the Palestinian population which accounts for 37% of Jerusalem’s inhabitants. Permission to build homes shows a continuation of this state-sanctioned unequal treatment, as 93% of housing permits were issued to Jewish Israelis and only 7% to Palestinians, the latter of which is in need of an additional 43,000 housing units which could rise significantly in the future as 60,000 Palestinians are at risk of having their homes demolished.

Underlying all this is the Wall of Separation built in 2002 which divides the majority Palestinian East Jerusalem from the West Bank, thereby dividing families and communities as well as severely complicating transport and access between the two areas by the construction of an impenetrable concrete wall, guarded by high watchtowers which may openly fire upon Palestinians, and accessible to Palestinians only through heavily militarized and inhumane checkpoints. And access is only granted to those who hold a Blue I.D. card, one of two possible colours assigned to Palestinians, the other being Green which prohibits movement across the Jerusalem checkpoints. All those separated from each other have no knowledge of when they may be reunited with their loved ones.

Thus there is an urgent need for the legal empowerment of Palestinians to enable their already disadvantaged position the capacity to navigate a judicial system with the uncompromising and undisputed aim of forcing them from their homes and tearing apart their communities. 

No comments:

Post a Comment