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In Opinion

East Jerusalem, occupied Palestinian Territory


There is an active campaign to de-Arabize East Jerusalem. The Jerusalem authority has publicly stated – a statement unthinkable in any non-racist authority – that they want to ensure that the Palestinian population of the city remains at or below 30%. Various means are being employed to ensure that the Palestinian population does not grow and many Palestinians have been forced to leave the city.

One example is the Jerusalem Authority plan to remove over 1,000 residents of Silwan Bustan to make way for the King David Park to cement the single narrative of Jewish claims over the city at the expense of not only the residents, but the other histories of the area.

The West Bank

The vast majority of the West Bank is under full Israeli control and is called ‘area C’. Areas A and B have services provided by the Palestinian Authority, but remain under occupation by the state of Israel.

As the UN OCHA said, in their special report of 2011 looking at Palestinian displacement:

Clear patterns of displacement are occurring in the Area C communities visited, with residents being forced to move in order to meet their basic needs….. The single most common reason causing people to move stems from the restrictive planning regime applied by the Israeli authorities in Area C, which makes it virtually impossible for Palestinians to obtain permission to build; in many cases, it is due to a combination of other factors, such as settler violence, movement restrictions, including the Barrier, reduced income, demolitions, or difficult access to services/resources (e.g. education, water, etc). Displaced families are moving to Areas A and B as well as to other parts of Area C. Thousands of others are at-risk of displacement due to the same factors.


Bedouins in Israel

More than half of the approximately 160,000 Negev (al-NaqabBedouins reside in unrecognized villages – Jewish settlements in the Naqab are retroactively recognized, while Bedouin villages that pre-date Israel’s independence are not . Whole communities have been issued demolition orders; others are forced to continue living in unrecognized villages that are denied basic services and infrastructure, such as electricity and running water.

Other Palestinians living in Israel

According to human rights organisation, Adalah, since 1948 1,000 new Jewish communities have been established yet not a single Arab settlement has been authorized. Palestinians, the indigenous population, are often referred to – by Israeli politicians – as a ‘demographic threat’.  Palestinians are regularly threatened with eviction in towns like Jaffa (because of their ethnicity.


Israel operates a policy of deportation to Gaza and prevents travel between Gaza and other parts of Palestinian territory. Gaza is one of the most over populated areas in the world, and many families are refugees from areas now in Israel and parts of the occupied Palestinian territory.

Palestinian prisoner, Samer Issawi refused Israel’s attempt to deport him to Gaza, as this is another means of ethnically cleansing East Jerusalem from Palestinians.

The prevention of family reunification of families divided by the Israeli state between Gaza, the West Bank, East Jerusalem, Israel and in exile is causing continuing hurt and is in violation of the human right to family life. But it is also a remaining tool of ethnic engineering.



Palestinians in exile & the refugee camps

When Palestinians were forcibly displaced in 1948 they were prevented from returning by the newly formed state of Israel. Israel continues to prevent people of indigenous Palestinian heritage from settling in their homeland to this day – which is in direct contravention of international law. This is despite the fact that they have instituted a Law of Return which allows all Jewish people to immigrate to Israel.

Palestinian refugees and internally displaced Palestinians (IDPs) represent the largest and longest-standing case of forced displacement in the world today. Around 750,000 Palestinians – three quarters of the Palestinian population – fled or were forced into exile in 1948 (see photos from Badil).

All refugees have an internationally recognized right to return to areas from which they have fled or were forced, to receive compensation for damages, and either to regain their properties or receive compensation and support for voluntary resettlement. This right derives from a number of legal sources, including customary international law, international humanitarian law (governing rights of civilians during war), and human rights law.

In the specific case of the Palestinians, this right was affirmed by the United Nations Resolution 194 of 1948, and has been reaffirmed repeatedly by that same body.