Study: Separation wall negatively impacts J'lem residents and status
Study shows Jews in the city may be in even more danger as a result of hostility created by the separation wall.
The separation wall, which cuts off tens of thousands of Palestinians and their neighborhoods from Jerusalem, is not only having a negative impact on the lives of East Jerusalem residents, but is also harming the city's Jewish inhabitants and its position as the nation's capital, according to a recent study conducted by the Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies.
According to the report, "To a large extend, Jerusalem has changed from a central city providing services to more than a million people in the surrounding area to a peripheral town. ... It is a limited metropolitan area that serves only 20 percent of the residents it formerly did, most of them Jews."
These team that prepared the study includes Dr. Yisrael Kimche, former head of Jerusalem municipal policy planning division, urban planner Dr. Maya Hoshen and Amnon Ramon, a specialist on the city's Christians and churches. The study warns that changes in real estate use brought about by the wall will have an impact on "the future of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel."
According to the report, while the wall may be contributing to security, overall "it has a negative effect on life in the city and its surrounding area" and in the long run it may increase hostility and terrorism.
Even if the wall prevents the infiltration of suicide bombers, frustration and anger on the part of Jerusalem's Palestinian population that is harmed by the wall "may increase hostility and undermine the fragile relationship between the Jewish and Arab communities in the city."
The report preparers say, "Beyond the short-term, the wall is likely to increase the "participation of East Jerusalem residents in terror activity."
In addition to cutting territory off from the city, the wall annexes land adjacent to Jewish neighborhoods that were not previously part of Jerusalem. The annexed territories are earmarked for the expansion of the Jewish neighborhoods, and in some cases even to join them to nearby settlements. In the north, the wall adds hundreds of dunams to Jerusalem east of Neveh Yaakov, toward the Adam settlement.
On the other hand, the wall has severed large Palestinian neighborhoods from the city. These include Kfar Akab and Samimis in the north, Shuafat and Ras Hamis in the east and part of Volja in the south.
According to the researchers and the defense establishment, approximately 90,000 Arabs from East Jerusalem holding Israeli identity cards, mostly permanent residents, lived outside the city's municipal boundaries before the wall was built. This would indicate that the estimates of the number of East Jerusalem Arabs given over the years were exaggerated. Now, tens of thousands of East Jerusalem residents who have Israeli identity cards are moving back into the city, to avoid losing several benefits that their residency status provides.
Consequently, housing prices in East Jerusalem have leaped, and in some cases Arabs are buying apartments in the northern neighborhoods of Pisgat Zeev and Neveh Yaakov, which are near the Arab quarters of Beit Hanina and Shuafat. Apartments in these Jewish neighborhoods are cheaper than in Arab neighborhoods, where prices have soared following the large inflow of Palestinians holding Israeli identity cards into the city.
"Should this trend increase, it could damage Israeli Jerusalem's future as the capital of the Jewish state," the study concludes. It lists the harsh consequences that are likely to result from the large-scale movement into Jerusalem. The study predicts a significant rise in population density and illegal construction in East Jerusalem. It is possible that tent cities or temporary housing will be erected to bring pressure to bear on the authorities, the report says.
The study predicts that the already existing housing shortage will become worse, leading to a rise in crime in the east of the city. That could also damage economically better-off Jewish residents, especially those living near the Arab neighborhoods. Real estate prices could crash in these areas and relations between the communities could be harmed.
The study also predicts an increase in drug abuse, which would be exacerbated by the increase in the number of poor families suffering from an acute housing shortage. A rise in poverty, crime and drug abuse would make it even harder for the municipality, National Insurance Institute and various welfare offices.
In the long-run, rapid growth of the Palestinian population in the city will create pressure on limited land reserves. A considerable part of the Palestinian-owned land is located in the Old City basin and other areas that sensitive, both visually and historically, according to the report.
"Already, the city cannot handle the illegal construction, and when the pressure increases, there will be no practical or moral way to avoid such construction," the report concludes.