Gov't: Status of Palestinian villages outside fence not up for review
Residents of nine villages technically under Israeli control lacking vital services, face travel hardships.
The government has no plans to change the status of nine Palestinian villages located within the municipal boundaries of Jerusalem but outside of the separation fence, despite the fact that it does not provide these communities with vital services and that residents of the towns must cross through roadblocks daily.
Minister without portfolio Yaakov Edri (Kadima) related the government's position on Wednesday during a session of the Knesset plenum, in response to a question raised by Meretz Chairman Yossi Beilin.
Beilin asked if the government planned to announce an official withdrawal from the nine neighborhoods for which it does not provide services. He also asked if the government was preparing to give an official stance regarding the division of Jerusalem as a result of the fence built in the middle of the city.
In response, Edri said, "The fence is a means of security, to prevent the entrance of attackers into Israel - it has no political significance."
He said that the government had reached its decision regarding the neighborhoods last July, agreeing that the security closure would be lifted only once arrangements have been made to give services to the Jerusalem residents remaining outside the fence.
Haaretz revealed last week that an absence of police officers in these neighborhoods has led to an increase in crime and drug-dealing. Also, thousands of schoolchildren who live beyond the fence are forced to pass through roadblocks every morning to get to school, according to a report by several members of the Jerusalem association of community councils and centers, who are founding a community council for the area neighborhoods.
The report also found that the Jerusalem municipality only removes garbage from some of the neighborhoods outside the separation fence; that some roads there have no streetlamps; that no new hospitals have been established in the area; that there are too few well-baby clinics or facilities for the elderly and not a single playground.
The Jerusalem envelope community council, whose establishment has received government approval, plans to attempt to resolve some of these problems in the nine villages and neighborhoods it represents.