January 7, 2018

WAITING FOR THE BARBARIANS:

Palestinians in Kufr Aqab: 'We live here just to wait' (Jaclynn Ashly , 1/07/18, Al Jazeera)

Piles of rubbish cover roadsides in Kufr Aqab and overflow from dumpsters, growing larger each day as residents wait for the municipality's infrequent rubbish collection services.

Munir Zaghayer, who heads Kufr Aqab's neighbourhood committee, remembers when Kufr Aqab was a scenic and upscale Jerusalem neighborhood. "We used to have a beautiful life here," he said.

Zaghayer moved to Kufr Aqab from Jerusalem's Old City in 1962. Before the wall was built, the population in Kufr Aqab did not exceed 12,000, he said.

However, when Israel constructed the separation wall, the neighbourhood started transforming. Israel had implemented policies more than a half-century ago that would determine Kufr Aqab's fate.

In 1967, when Israel occupied and subsequently annexed East Jerusalem, Palestinians in East Jerusalem were not granted Israeli citizenship, but were instead issued Jerusalem residency status.

Palestinians with Jerusalem IDs must consistently prove to Israel that Jerusalem is the centre of their life, or else face the revocation of their residency. Almost 15,000 Palestinians have had their Jerusalem IDs revoked since 1967, according to Human Rights Watch.

Following its takeover of East Jerusalem, Israel reduced the land zoned for Palestinian construction to some 13 percent, most of which was already built up. A housing crisis in Palestinian neighbourhoods ensued, followed by routine Israeli demolition campaigns carried out on Palestinian homes and structures, as residents were forced to build without permits.

But in Kufr Aqab, Israel ceased enforcing its municipal regulations once the wall was built, making home demolitions extremely rare. Coupled with the cheaper cost of living, this prompted tens of thousands of Palestinian Jerusalem residents to flock to the neighbourhood. Since Kufr Aqab is still within Jerusalem's municipal borders, Palestinians moving there can maintain their Jerusalem residency.

Yet the municipality fails to provide basic services to the neighbourhoods beyond the wall, including education, waste removal and road maintenance. The residents receive just two days of running water a week, despite paying municipal and other taxes.

Odeh says Israel's neglect has reached a "discriminatory" level, noting that as of 2015, the entire budget for improving infrastructure in Jerusalem was 880 million shekels ($256m) - but Kufr Aqab and Shuafat refugee camp were allocated just 800,000 shekels ($233,000) between them.

Posted by at January 7, 2018 11:05 AM

  

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