United Nations’ Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs’ Special Focus Report: “The Planning Crisis in East Jerusalem: Understanding the Phenomenon of ‘Illegal’ Construction”
United Nations’ Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs’ Special Focus Report: “The Planning Crisis in East Jerusalem: Understanding the Phenomenon of “Illegal” Construction”
A new special report addresses the housing crisis for Palestinians in annexed East Jerusalem due to the lack of adequate urban planning by the Israeli Jerusalem municipality, which controls East Jerusalem and the every day life and housing needs of Palestinians.
Key findings include:
+ At least 28 percent of all Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem have been built without obtaining the requisite building permits.
+ As a result, at least 60,000 out of 225,000 Palestinians in East Jerusalem are at risk of having their homes demolished by the Israeli authorities.
+ Approximately 1,500 demolition orders have been issued in East Jerusalem, which if implemented, would displace about 9,000 people (almost half children).
+ Only 13 percent of annexed East Jerusalem is zoned by the Israeli authorities for Palestinian construction, while 1/3 of annexed East Jerusalem has been expropriated for settlement housing projects, where more than 195,000 Israeli settlers reside.
+ There is an estimated gap of 1,100 housing units per year for the Palestinian communities in East Jerusalem.
+ Recent events indicate that the Jerusalem municipality will maintain, and possibly accelerate, its policy on house demolitions in East Jerusalem.
+ Israel’s policy of house demolitions parallels its policy in the West Bank, where each year, hundreds of Palestinian-owned structures are demolished in Area C of the West Bank for lack of a building permit. Thousands of other families face constant threat of demolition.
The Report recommends the following steps:
1. The Israeli authorities should freeze pending demolition orders.
2. The Israeli authorities must ensure proper urban planning that will address the housing crisis of Palestinians in East Jerusalem, as part of its obligations as an occupying power.
3. Provide support to local and international organisations which work on urban planning initiatives and legal aid, as well as organisations working to meet the immediate and longer-term needs of displaced families.