So much for the economic peace the Israeli right is regularly trumpeting. A fine report by Ben Lynfield in the Forward shows the economic destruction of East Jerusalem under Israeli annexation. Great headlines for an American Jewish publication: “East Jerusalem Suffers Economic Tailspin. Checkpoints and Barrier Cuts City Off From Palestinian Customers”:
The failure of the Addar Mall is part of an alarming economic meltdown in East Jerusalem. The Palestinian sector of the city was once the shopping and business hub for Palestinians throughout the Israeli-occupied West Bank. But now, thanks to Israeli security checkpoints and a separation barrier begun a decade ago after a series of bloody Palestinian suicide bombings, East Jerusalem is isolated from its customer base in the West Bank — and caught in a seemingly bottomless economic tailspin.
“The city is dying,” businessman Nabil Feidy said. “East Jerusalem has always been poor, but the political situation and the wall have destroyed the economy completely.”…
According to a January 2011 report by the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem, since annexing East Jerusalem and many surrounding areas to form Jerusalem’s current borders, Israel has expropriated about one-third of the annexed territory — most of it privately owned Arab property — for residential construction reserved exclusively for Jews and for “green areas” within which building is not permitted.
No Palestinians sit on the planning boards that make these zoning and construction decisions. Wary that participating in elections would legitimize Israeli annexation, Palestinians have refrained from seeking posts on the city council and have no influence on the municipality. The key decisions impacting their daily lives are made entirely by Israelis.
The consequences of Israeli policy are evident in Palestinian neighborhoods. According to ACRI figures released in May, housing density in Arab neighborhoods is almost twice that of Jewish neighborhoods. The lack of available land forces many Palestinians to build homes where they can without first obtaining a building permit. Alternatively, Palestinians feel forced to leave the city and relocate to the West Bank, whereupon they lose the special residency status that gives them the right to enter Jerusalem freely as Palestinians.