The PIEF is an international, inter-church advocacy initiative for peace in Israel and Palestine

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    The conflict over the status of Jerusalem is often cited as the most sensitive, central and emotive of the conflicts shaking the Middle East region as a whole. It is one of the major obstacles in the peace process. Palestinians in the annexed city continue to suffer the daily abuse of occupation in the form of Israeli discriminatory practices against them.
    The WCC has repeatedly addressed the question of Jerusalem since 1948. It affirms that Jerusalem is a holy city for three monotheistic religions – Judaism, Islam, and Christianity. The WCC believes that "Jerusalem must remain an open and inclusive city" and that it must be "shared in terms of sovereignty and citizenship" within the framework of international law.

    Download a presentation on the Jerusalem residency rights of Palestinian Christians by Yusef Daher, Jerusalem Inter-Church Centre (pdf, 502 KB)

    Download a dossier on "Jerusalem, Issues and Perspectives" (pdf), prepared as background material for the World Week 2011

    East Jerusalem – Key humanitarian concerns
    This is a report which focuses on East Jerusalem and forms part of a series by OCHA which examines the humanitarian impact of Israeli measures, such as the Barrier, settlements and planning and zoning restrictions, on Palestinians in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt). The report mainly focuses on the area unilaterally annexed to Israel and included within the municipal boundary of Jerusalem following the 1967 war. This annexation is not recognized by the international community, and the Security Council has resolved that all legislative measures and actions taken by Israel to alter the character and status of Jerusalem are null and void. Read more

    The Jerusalem Old City Initiative
    Discussion Document that highlights new directions for deliberation and dialogue compiled by Michael Bell, Michael J. Molloy, John Bell and Marketa Evans University of Toronto, Munk Centre for International Studies. Read more....

    The Character of Settlements in Jerusalem
    The term "settlements" is problematic in the context of Jerusalem because most of the Israeli public does not consider the established Jewish neighborhoods built in the east part of Jerusalem after 1967 -- neighborhoods such as Gilo, French Hill and Pisgat Ze'ev -- to be settlements, even though that is their status according to international law and the position of the international community.

    Ir Amim applies the term "settlement" in Jerusalem mainly to Jewish construction in the middle of Palestinian areas when the construction is not a direct and open government initiative -- namely concentrations of Jewish settlement in the heart of Palestinian neighborhoods in East Jerusalem, the Old City and the adjacent neighborhoods. Currently the number of settlers in East Jerusalem is about 2000, including the yeshiva students in the various settlements Read more.....

    The Legal Status of the Palestinian Residents in East Jerusalem
    The Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem are not citizens of Israel- they have the status of permanent resident. Because of this status, they have blue identity cards and are entitled to benefits such as national insurance, health insurance and unemployment allowances; they are also obligated to pay taxes...Permanent residents live under the constant threat of losing their status if they leave the boundaries of Israel for more than seven years and can no longer prove they have a "connection" to Jerusalem. Permanent residence, unlike citizenship, is transferred to the children of the residents only if certain conditions are met. Since the Knesset passed the “citizenship law”, it has been illegal for Jerusalem permanent residents to bring their spouses, who do not have permanent resident status, to live with them in Jerusalem. Read more....

    Legal Status of East Jerusalem and its Residents.
    "Between 1948 and June of 1967, Jerusalem was divided in two: West Jerusalem, which covered an area of about 38 square kilometers was under Israeli control, and East Jerusalem, which contained an area of some 6 sq. km, was ruled by Jordan. In June 1967, following the 1967 War, Israel annexed some 70 sq. km to the municipal boundaries of West Jerusalem, and imposed Israeli law there. These annexed territories included not only the part of Jerusalem that had been under Jordanian rule, but also an additional 64 square kilometers, most of which had belonged to 28 villages in the West Bank, and part of which belonged to the municipalities of Bethlehem and Beit Jala. Following their annexation, the area of West Jerusalem tripled, and Jerusalem became the largest city in Israel...Palestinians hold the status of "permanent resident" of the State of Israel. This is the same status granted to foreign citizens who have freely chosen to come to Israel and want to live there. Israel treats Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem as immigrants who live in their homes at the beneficence of the authorities and not by right. The authorities maintain this policy although these Palestinians were born in Jerusalem, lived in the city, and have no other home. Treating these Palestinians as foreigners who entered Israel is astonishing, since it was Israel that entered East Jerusalem in 1967". Read more...

    Residency Of 240,000 Palestinians Revoked By Israel Since 1967
    The Israeli daily, Haaretz, published a report revealing that Israel revoked the residency rights of around 240,000 Palestinians since it occupied the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem, in 1967, until the Palestinian Authority was established in 1994.

    It stated that more than 140,000 Palestinian residents of the West Bank and more than 100,000 residents of the Gaza Strip lost their residency rights in the period between the 1967 six-day war, until the Palestinian Authority was established in 1994.
    The report also indicated that the natural growth of the Palestinian population is around 3.3%, but the strict Israeli measures on border terminals, reduced the Palestinian population by more than 10%, most of them were college students who studied abroad, or freelancers who travelled to several countries, including the Arab gulf.
    Haaretz said that the Israeli government coordinator in the West Bank had to reveal these statistics after the Center for the Defense of the Individual filed a request in this regard under the Freedom of Information act. Read more....

    Christians for Middle East Peace
    "As a coalition of 22 national church bodies – Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant – we urge your attention to the alarming decline in numbers of our Palestinian Christian brothers and sisters. We believe the potential for a Holy Land devoid of its indigenous Christian community has implications not only on religious and cultural grounds but also for U.S. national security interests, making your work to bring peace, stability and security through a just and lasting two-state solution even more urgent.  Indeed, Christians play a critical role in the formation of a democratic and pluralistic Palestinian state.  Their presence is necessary for Jerusalem to remain an interreligious city and their active participation in civil society and the continued good work of Christian schools, hospitals and other humanitarian institutions is an important element of a stable Middle East". Read more..

    Status of Jerusalem- A perspective from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
    The 1947 United Nations partition plan called for Jerusalem and Bethlehem to be under special international status. Jerusalem is sacred to three religions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam, and home to two major peoples, the Israelis and the Palestinians. The Israelis claim it as the “eternal and undivided capital of Israel” and mostly resist efforts by Palestinians who claim it must be a shared city and also the Palestinian capital. Claims aside, the reality is that Jerusalem is a very divided city that has known great violence and major conflict over expanding Israeli settlements, confiscation of Palestinian land, demolition of Palestinian homes, revocation of residency rights for Palestinians and great disparity in resources between Israeli West Jerusalem and Palestinian East Jerusalem. Read more...

    Jerusalem's Holy Places and the Peace Process
    The status of Jerusalem as a city filled with shrines, monuments, and other areas sacred to the Jewish,Christian, and Muslim faiths presents several problems to policymakers intent on pursuing Arab-Israeli peace. This book reviews past and present policies for administering and protecting the holy places and offers ten lessons policymakers should consider in framing future policy toward the holy places.
    Source: http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/templateC04.php?CID=6

    The humanitarian situation in East Jerusalem
    This report focuses on East Jerusalem and forms part of a series by OCHA which examines the humanitarian impact of Israeli measures, such as the Barrier, settlements and planning and zoning restrictions, on Palestinians in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt). It mainly focuses on the area unilaterally annexed to Israel and included within the municipal boundary of Jerusalem following the 1967 war. This annexation is not recognized by the international community, and the Security Council has resolved that all legislative measures and actions taken by Israel to alter the character and status of Jerusalem are null and void.”
    Source: East Jerusalem - Key Humanitarian Concerns
    The complete report can be found at http://unispal.un.org/pdfs/OCHASpFocus_230311.pdf

    Forced Displacement and Ethnic Cleansing
    This study by the The Civic Coalition for Defending the Palestinians’ Rights in Jerusalem (CCDPRJ) which is concerned with development and human rights issues in Jerusalem examines Israeli policies and measures aimed at increasing the Jewish presence in Jerusalem and minimizing the Palestinian can be classified as forced displacement amounting to ethnic cleansing. It provides a background on the legal status of Jerusalem, and detail the policies and methods adopted by Israeli authorities to expel Palestinians from the city.  Read more...

    Special Focus: Occupied East Jerusalem
    Jerusalem has always been and remains the political, administrative and spiritual heart of Palestine. Occupied East Jerusalem is the natural socio-economic and political center for the Palestinian state given its cultural importance, commercial vitality, historical significance, and geographic centrality connecting the northern and southern parts of Palestine. It is an integral part of the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), as recognized by the international community and relevant United Nations (UN) resolutions. Consequently, there can be no viable Palestinian state without East Jerusalem as its capital.

    This authoritative article provides valuable insights into why the status of Jerusalem is so vital to address in the build up to any peace agreement. Read more..

    Israeli Violations in Occupied East Jerusalem (July 2011-June 2012)
    This study was prepared by the Land Research Centre in cooperation with the Civic Coalition for Defending Palestinian rights in Jerusalem. During the period under review in the study, the Israeli state pursued discriminatory practices towards the Arab citizens of Jerusalem. In the 12 months alone, hundreds of human rights violations have been recorded in Jerusalem, including house demolitions, settler attacks, restriction of movement, confiscation of land, raids against private property, and beatings. Read more..

    Statistics on demolition of houses built without permits in East Jerusalem

    Pretexts under which house demolitions are carried out

    Collective Punishment:
    The Israeli government uses house demolitions as collective punishment under various pretexts. The action is indiscriminate and is often applied to innocent people and upon mere suspicion. For example, families of attackers or of people suspected of carrying out attacks as well as their neighbours or in some cases whole neighbourhoods are subject to this illegal violation of human rights. Under the Fourth Geneva Convention, Occupying Powers are prohibited from destroying property or employing collective punishment. Article 53 reads: “Any destruction by the Occupying Power of real or personal property belonging individually or collectively to private persons…is prohibited."

    The Israeli government also rationalises house demolition using the argument that certain military operations require "clearing operations". Under International Humanitarian Law (IHL), the destruction of property during combat is not illegal as such. But destruction is The most common defence used for demolishing houses in east Jerusalem and Palestinian houses in Israel is for administrative reasons. The Israeli government demolishes houses in Area C (Palestine Areas under Israeli military and civil control) because of lack of building licenses even though attaining a building license in east Jerusalem or inside Israel is nearly impossible for Palestinians.

    According to B'Tselem Palestinian houses under this justification are normally demolished to meet the following needs:

    Construction of bypass roads: Bypass roads are intended to enable the movement of settlers and military forces protecting the settlements. Houses lying alongside an existing or planned bypass road are designated for demolition.
    Removal of Palestinians from areas adjacent to Israeli settlements: Israeli authorities consistently demolish Palestinian structures that are perceived as hindrances to the establishment and expansion of Israeli settlements. The proximity of the houses to the settlements obviously is not posed as an official reason for the demolition in these cases.
    To prevent transfer of land to Palestinians: Israel demolishes houses in areas located on land that it wants to keep for itself in the final-status agreement. By pursuing this policy, Israel is preventing the Palestinian Authority from demanding the land on grounds that Palestinians live there. Demolition of houses is a convenient way to expel residents from the area.

    For statistics of house demolitions between 2004 and updated to September 2012 see  http://www.btselem.org/planning_and_building/east_jerusalem_statistics

    Resource: What is the E1 area, and why is it so important?

    In response to the Palestinian statehood bid, the Israeli government decided to promote zoning plans for the area known as E1, northeast of Jerusalem. The project is intended to link annexed East Jerusalem with the mega-settlement of Ma’aleh Adumin, thus finally making the creation of a contiguous Palestinian State impossible. This study is carried out by Ir Amim (“City of Nations” or “City of Peoples”) is an NGO which focuses on Jerusalem within the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Ir Amim seeks to render Jerusalem a stable, more viable and equitable city for the Israelis and Palestinians who share it.

    E1 (derived from “East 1”) is a term applied by the Ministry of Housing to an area located just east of the Jerusalem municipal boundary, on the hills between Ma’aleh Adummim and Jerusalem. It lies north of the Jerusalem-Ma’aleh Adummim road and edges the Palestinian towns of Anata, Abu Dis, Azariya and A-Zayim. E1, which covers some 12,000 dunams (12 sq. kilometers), is part of the planning area of Ma’aleh Adummim. The main artery between the northern and southern West Bank runs through E1.

    In recent years, Israel has begun building and settling the area. The development plan for E1 includes the transfer of the West Bank (Judea & Samaria) Police Headquarters from its present location, and the construction of at least 3,500 residential units, a large commercial center, and more. Plans for the E1 area make no reference whatsoever to the local Palestinian population.

    The text and the maps appear are from Ir Amim and highlight so vividly what the crisis is and the risks they portend for the future.

    Source: http://972mag.com/resource-what-is-the-e1-area-and-why-is-it-so-important/61298/
    For more on Ir Amim see: http://eng.ir-amim.org.il/

    Video: Why Is Jerusalem Always On Edge?

    It seems like every violent incident in Jerusalem could spark another massive flare-up in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. But what are the policies keeping the city on edge?



    Christians in the Holy Land

    The roots of the Arab Christians lie deep in Palestine. Jerusalem has always been lively and has welcomed brothers and sisters in faith over the years as resident and passing pilgrims, calling on them to learn about the sources nurturing their faith.

    The vast majority of Palestinian Christians, estimated at 600,000 in the world, have local roots. They speak Arabic and have a long history that connects them to the mother church. Over 70 per cent of them live outside Palestine; only 50,000 Palestinian Christians remain in the country across the West Bank, where 47,000 of them live, and the rest are in the Gaza Strip. They make up 1.25 per cent of the Palestinian population in the occupied Palestinian territories. The total population under Israeli occupation was estimated at 4 million in 2009.

    The Palestinian Christians are distributed among denominations as follows: 51 per cent Greek Orthodox, 33 per cent Latin (Roman Catholic), 5 per cent Protestant, 3 per cent each Syriac and Armenian Orthodox, and 2 per cent Copt, Ethiopian, Maronite and other Christian groups.