Academic journal article Jerusalem Quarterly

Barkat's Disengagement Plan

Academic journal article Jerusalem Quarterly

Barkat's Disengagement Plan

Article excerpt

The mayor of Jerusalem gets up one fine morning and decides that 70,000 residents - native Jerusalemites - shall no longer be part of the city. Does the mayor have the authority to make such a decision? No. But Jerusalem

is unlike any other city. And why is it that Nir Barkat is fed up with almost one tenth of the residents of his city? Have they stopped paying taxes? Have they undermined the city's institutions or its leadership? They have done nothing of the sort.

Barkat's declaration to remove 70,000 residents from municipal jurisdiction applies to the residents of eight neighborhoods in East Jerusalem, in the areas of Qalandia in the north and the Shu'fat refugee camp in the northeast, all within the jurisdiction Israel declared in 1967 when it annexed them to the "united" city. For nearly forty- five years these neighborhoods have been a recognized part of Jerusalem's urban space. Their residents work in Jerusalem, feel they belong to the city, and receive from it the scant services and resources the city's leaders through the decades have deigned to provide them.

The separation barrier built in the middle of the last decade left these neighborhoods in no man's land. After the barrier was built municipal services gradually diminished until they almost completely disappeared. At the same time, the absence of municipal authority drew residents of other neighborhoods, who could no longer withstand the impossible obstacles the municipality imposes on construction in Palestinian neighborhoods inside the barrier. It would seem to be a paradise of uncontrolled building; in fact, it is a state of urban chaos in which residents yearn for the presence of the authorities, without which their lives have descended into anarchy and their infrastructures have collapsed.

Since the separation barrier was built, the residents have lived in constant fear that Israel will carry out its hidden intention of completely disconnecting these neighborhoods from the city and turning them into abandoned enclaves. That fear turns out not to have been unfounded.

The Jerusalem neighborhoods outside the separation barrier are not an isolated case. To the contrary, they are a faithful reflection of Israel's policy in all of East Jerusalem. Israel annexed East Jerusalem and applied Israeli law to it, granting its population the status of permanent residents of Israel while continuing to view them as conditional subjects. …

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