Court: Jerusalem Municipality Neglected Palestinian Neighborhood of Kafr Aqab

Municipal and government officials blame each other for the condition of village on West Bank side of the security barrier.

Emil Salman

A Jerusalem District Court judge has taken the Jerusalem municipality to task for what he said is the neglect of Kafr Aqab, a Palestinian village located within the municipal boundaries but separated from most of the city by the West Bank security barrier.

Residents cannot be left that way, District Court Judge David Mintz told a representative of the state at a hearing this week on a petition from residents to upgrade roads in the village. Either its part of Jerusalem or not. If it is part of Jerusalem, give them the services that they deserve.

As reported in Haaretz, officials from the city and the national government have pointed fingers at each other over responsibility for the situation, a dispute that persisted at the court hearing. Everything that is happening on the other side of the barrier pertains to the state from the standpoint of the Jerusalem municipality, Danny Liebman, a lawyer for the city, told the court, adding that the city has taken up a large number of problems with the government but has not always received answers.

For his part, attorney Yaakov Funkelstein, representing the government, accused the city of years of inaction, saying the municipality didnt know how to deal with the problems so it implicated the state. How are we relevant here? Over the past five years, the Jerusalem municipality has been allocated 450 million shekels ($116 million), he said in reference to state funding. Thats a huge sum any way you look at it. What is the municipality doing with this money?

A lawyer representing the neighborhood residents also rejected issues involving the safety of municipal workers providing services to the neighborhood. They always present a picture as if it were the Wild West on the other side of the barrier. They havent presented a single case of something that has happened in the neighborhood. Nothing has ever even happened to the contractor who collects the garbage, he said, referring to the firm to which trash collection there has been outsourced.