Three East J'lem Neighborhoods Petition Against Separation Fence

The High Court of Justice will today hear a petition from three East Jerusalem neighborhoods due to be severed from the city by the separation fence. The neighborhood's residents wish to remain part of Jerusalem.

The petition was submitted by Ir Amim, a nonpartisan NGO specializing in protecting Palestinians' human rights in Jerusalem.

The neighborhoods Anata, Ras al-Hamis and the Shuafat refugee camp, home to some 25,000 people, were annexed to Jerusalem in 1967 and their residents received the blue identity cards that Israeli citizens bear.

However, the separation fence being constructed in the area now threatens to leave these neighborhoods outside the wall.

Attorney Daniel Seidemann of Ir Amim claims that leaving the neighborhoods outside the barrier would fatally disrupt the residents' lives, as the center of their life is in Jerusalem.

The barrier that has already been constructed in North Jerusalem left an entire neighborhood of blue cardholders, Kfar Akab, outside the fence. Since then the Jerusalem municipality has stopped all services to the neighborhood, although formally it is still part of the city, Seidemann says in the petition.

Seidemann says that the main reason for cutting the neighborhoods off from the city is demographic. He quotes a conversation he had with a Defense Ministry official who said, "The intention is to get those people out of Jerusalem and make them part of the West Bank."

Using the demographic reason is illegal, as it infringes on the human rights of the Palestinian residents, who are Israeli citizens for all intents and purposes, Seidemann argues.

The petitioners have agreed to an alternative fence route, which would divide between their neighborhoods and the adjacent Palestinian neighborhoods, which belong to the Palestinian Authority.

This is unusual because so far all the Palestinian petitions against the fence in the Jerusalem area demanded canceling the barrier between the Palestinian communities within the PA and those in East Jerusalem.