The judaization of Jerusalem and at erasing it Arab character

September 9, 1997

Press Release

Issued by Human Rights Organizations

Following the 1967 Israeli occupation of the remainder of Palestine, including the eastern part of Jerusalem, Israel - in violation of international law and resolutions, such as Article 47 of the 1949 Geneva Conventions - decided to annex the eastern part of the city.

Parallel to the unlawful annexation, Israel started a series of procedures aimed at the judaization of the city and at erasing it Arab character; these procedures were applied both against the people and against Arab land. Thus Israel began confiscating lands, building settlements, and transferring Jews to them, thereby violating Article 49 of the Geneva Conventions, which prohibits the transfer of civilians into occupied areas. At the same time, Israel prevented Arab residents from building there on the grounds that the areas were designated "green land" and not slated for construction. Therefore, no building permits were issued. According to our knowledge, not one Israeli home has been destroyed in West Jerusalem, although Israeli officials frequently mention that building violations there occur.

Moreover, Israel closed Jerusalem and prevents Palestinians from reaching Jerusalem to attend religious services, or to obtain treatment in the specialized hospitals. It also closed several Palestinian national institutions for absurd reasons. Late in 1993, Israel came up with a new interpretation of the Israeli Law of Entrance Into Israel (1952). According to this new interpretation, Palestinian Jerusalemites are obliged to document that the "center of their lives" is in the city. Based on this new policy, Israel has confiscated thousands of identity cards from Palestinian Jerusalemites and prevented them from living in Jerusalem. At the same time, Israel has prevented other Jerusalemites from returning to their city, claiming that they have transferred the "center of their lives" outside Jerusalem; their family reunification application for spouses have been frozen, their newborn children are not registered and the Israeli Interior Ministry refuses to issue ID cards to their teen-age children.

Given all these dangerous violations of Palestinian human rights pertaining to the freedom of movement, the right to education and health services, and residency rights, and confronted with the Israeli policy of ethnic cleansing, dozens of Palestinian families gathered in a protest camp in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Siwana in August 1997. Unfortunately, we have not heard the voice of the international institutions and organizations which are responsible for the implementation of international norms and conventions. Therefore, we the human rights organizations in Palestine demand:

1. international organizations, human rights institutions and the UN to play their role in fighting the Israeli policies of racist discrimination and ethnic cleansing in Jerusalem, and to oblige the Israeli government to respect the international norms and conventions which oblige the occupier to maintain the status quo in the occupied city.

2. United Nations committees, especially the Committee for Social, Economic and Cultural Rights, to monitor the implementation of international commitments pertaining to social, cultural, and economic rights. We also call upon the Committee Against Racial Discrimination, the Committee for Children's Rights and the Committee to Prevent Discrimination of Women to establish special investigation committees to study the deteriorating situation of human rights in Jerusalem.

Jerusalem, 9-9-1997

Citizen's Rights Center/Arab Thought Forum Freedoms Defense Institute Palestine Human Rights Information Center Alternative Information Center-Bethlehem Defense for Children International/Palestine Branch Jerusalem Center for Women Women's Center for Legal Aid and Counseling Independent Palestinian Commission for Citizens' Rights Addameer Center for Democracy and Workers' Rights

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