Ir Amim web site

Dear Friends: 

 

Ahead of the start of the new school year, distinguished as “Jerusalem Unity Year” by the minister of education, it is imperative that we remain mindful of Jerusalem’s place in the lives and national aspirations of both Israelis and Palestinians, and make efforts to ensure that as thousands of Israeli pupils stream to the city, the Palestinian presence does not remain invisible to them. This year is not “Jerusalem Unity Year” but rather the 50th year since Israel’s annexation of East Jerusalem.

As Yudith Oppenheimer, Executive Director of Ir Amim, recently cautioned:  

“The drive to push the Palestinian presence out of Jerusalem – either by direct action or by engaging in practices that render it unseen – is implemented every day… 

Managing the ‘neighborhood chaos’ while constantly fueling it and continually eroding the Palestinian presence in the city is tantamount to playing a cynical game with the lives of all Jerusalem residents and with the city’s future. Despite the best efforts of the prime minister and the mayor, Jerusalem has been and remains the physical and symbolic home and future capital of two peoples. Consigning one side to a life of poverty, neglect, dispossession and loss of political hope will not make it disappear, but it is an almost certain formula for paralyzing the city.” 

 

Click here to read Yudith Oppenheimer’s full op-ed, published in the Jerusalem Post. For an overview of Ir Amim’s recommendations for managing Jerusalem as the home and future capital of two peoples, see Ir Amim’s policy paper.

 

IR AMIM UPDATES

Ir Amim and Residents Win First Fire Trucks for Kufr Aqab  

After a two and a half-year campaign spearheaded by Ir Amim and local residents, the Israel Fire and Rescue Services has opened Kufr Aqab’s first fire station, located near the Qalandia checkpoint. The station, equipped with two fire trucks, is the first to be opened in the East Jerusalem neighborhoods beyond the Separation Barrier. 

Since the Barrier was built over a decade ago, the city has all but completely abdicated its responsibility for serving the neighborhoods beyond the Barrier, including the provision of urgent rescue services. In addition to the fire station, Ir Amim has also helped facilitate placement of a Palestinian Red Crescent ambulance to service the area. And, after a petition filed by Ir Amim and Kufr Aqab residents to improve road conditions was accepted by the court, the Municipality and the State have been instructed to start implementing a plan for road infrastructure improvements by January 2017.

Responding to these hard-fought improvements, Oshrat Maimon, Ir Amim’s Director of Policy Advocacy, commented: “As long as Israel’s control of East Jerusalem continues, responsibility for providing services in these neighborhoods lies in the hands of the Israeli government and the Jerusalem Municipality. Since the State of Israel separated many residents of East Jerusalem from their city by means of the Barrier, we will continue to insist that the authorities meet their obligations towards them.”

Surge of Demolitions in East Jerusalem  

In the past weeks, a surge has been recorded in house demolitions throughout East Jerusalem, including a large-scale demolition in Qalandia, where 37 housing units were destroyed (31 of which were located in East Jerusalem and 6 outside the municipal boundaries). 

This latest wave brings the annual total number of demolitions to date in East Jerusalem to 142 – including 89 residential units and 53 non-residential structures, already outstripping the year-end total of 74 in 2015. 

The marked increase in demolitions falls into a clear pattern of employing demolitions and evictions to displace Palestinians from the city so as to further consolidate Israeli control of East Jerusalem and particularly the highly-contested area of the Historic Basin. At present, over 100 families are at risk of eviction in the Old City and Silwan alone. 

In addition to the grave humanitarian consequences of demolitions and evictions on Palestinians’ lives and their collective right to the city, these developments break the organic territorial, demographic and communal wholeness of East Jerusalem – deeply connected to the Historic Basin – and pose a clear danger to the future of the two-state solution.

Ir Amim will continue to challenge these developments through ongoing monitoring and advocacy.

Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif – Between Tisha B’Av and Tishrei Holidays 

On Tisha B’Av, the Jewish holiday commemorating the destruction of the Temples, the police permitted about 400 Jewish activists to visit the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif– a record high for daily visit figures. At least seven activists were detained for breaking visitation rules. While tension and minor clashes were recorded, the situation largely remained under control. 

It should, however, be kept in mind that members of the Temple movements are not content to just visit the site but instead seek to challenge the vulnerable status quo on the Mount and to fulfill a vision of Jewish sovereignty over the holy site. On the eve of Tisha B’Av, Deputy Defense Minister Eli Ben-Dahan actually called to build the Third Temple. Given the volatile climate on the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif, the government cannot leave the situation in the hands of the police and must take steps to uphold the status quo, including withdrawing any and all support for the Temple activists, prohibiting public figures like Ben-Dahan from taking actions to inflame tensions, and increasing coordination with the Waqf – the Islamic religious trust responsible for administering the site.

In advance of the High Holidays, these events should serve as a warning: tensions on the Mount could easily escalate and spin out of control, particularly in lead-up to the Tishrei holidays, a peak activity period for Temple activists.  During these periods, activists ramp up ascents to the Mount and it is during these times that collective restrictions on Muslim worshippers have traditionally been applied, in several cases triggering violence across Jerusalem. See Ir Amim’s policy paper for more on the correlation between collective restrictions and outbreaks of violence. 

Ir Amim Course Engages Young Ultra-Orthodox Leaders 

Ir Amim recently completed its fifth course on East Jerusalem for young West Jerusalem-based leaders and activists, this time with members of the progressive ultra-Orthodox community, a new audience and one that brings a new depth to Ir Amim’s work. 

In the seven-session course, the participants – consisting of young ultra-Orthodox community leaders and activists – met with Israeli and Palestinian lecturers, who presented key issues such as gross disparities in planning and education, and a review of Israeli and Palestinian narratives on Jerusalem. The course sessions were marked by incisive questions and lively discussions, with participants arriving at new insights on the complex reality faced by Jewish and Palestinian residents of Jerusalem.

As one course participant put it: “There is potential here for [finding] common interests between the Arab and ultra-Orthodox populations in Jerusalem… We don’t have to think only in sectarian terms in this city.” Other participants’ feedback indicated that acquiring a professional understanding of developments in East Jerusalem helped to reformulate positions on the city, and conveyed the idea that observing and becoming familiar with the suffering of Palestinians in East Jerusalem can be an incentive to action.  

 

IR AMIM IN THE MEDIA

Ir Amim board member Alon Liel: “The recent U.S. condemnation [of Israeli settlement expansion] is anything but overstated; it is an indication of mounting global concern over the imminent extinction of the two state solution. In the next six months, until January 20, 2017, the window for saving it remains open, albeit narrowly.”

Newsweek, August 7

Ir Amim featured in video report on Ateret Cohanim settlement activity in Batan al-Hawa, Silwan, where an entire neighborhood is at risk of eviction.

i24News, August 3

 

US State Department issues harsh condemnation of Israel’s continued advancement of settlement plans and increasing demolitions. The tenders referenced in the statement came to wide attention after they were publicized by Ir Amim:

New York Times, July 28

 

 

UPCOMING STUDY TOURS            

Ir Amim invites you to join one of our public tours – an opportunity to learn about the political, economic and social issues associated with Jerusalem’s role as the epicenter of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and to engage in dialogue about the future of the city. The tours provide an incisive and candid look at Jerusalem and how developments – from settlement building to revocations of Palestinians’ permanent residency status – impact our ability to negotiate a resolution to the Conflict.

In addition to our introductory study tour, in September we are offering a specialized tour focusing on the northern perimeter of East Jerusalem that examines policies being implemented in Israeli and Palestinian neighborhoods in this area.  Unique issues relevant to the northern neighborhoods include the proximity of the northern perimeter to Ramallah; Israeli neighborhoods increasingly encroaching onto Palestinian land; and the phenomenon of the East Jerusalem neighborhoods located within the municipal border but outside the Separation Barrier. This tour is recommended for participants who already have some basic familiarity with the political issues concerning Jerusalem.

Participation requires registration in advance and is free of charge.

The next tours: 

Friday, September 9, 2016 - 9:30 AM: Study Tour of Northern Neighborhoods in English (register here) 

Friday, September 30, 2016 - 9:00 AM: Study Tour of East Jerusalem in English (register here) 

  

SUPPORT IR AMIM

Ir Amim works to inspire an informed public discourse on political issues related to Jerusalem, and to promote conditions for a more equitable Jerusalem today and towards a future, agreed-upon political resolution. We reach out to the general public in Israel and to our friends abroad by means of tours, lectures, press reports, social media activity, media campaigns and more.

Please consider making a contribution to Ir Amim as we work to monitor all of the current developments in our city, and conduct legal and policy advocacy to fight developments that undermine hope for a political resolution on the city. To donate, please click here.

 

Follow us on Twitter: @IrAmimAlerts and Facebook (tinyurl.com/IrAmimEngto keep current on Ir Amim’s positions on unfolding events in Jerusalem and be the first to access our latest resources. Stay tuned for updates on Ir Amim’s growing English language social media presence.

 

With thanks for your continued interest and support,

The Ir Amim team