Jerusalem’s mayor has voiced support for a scheme that could see responsibility for areas in the city’s eastern Arab sector transferred to the Israeli body which runs civil affairs in the West Bank.
The scheme, one of a number of options being considered, would affect areas of the city that are on the other side of Israel’s controversial security barrier, but which technically remain within the municipal boundaries of the Holy City.
The barrier does not follow the municipal boundaries of the city and several Arab neighborhoods of east Jerusalem fall on the other side of the wall, creating a logistical problem in service provision.
In a statement sent to AFP earlier this week, the city council said Mayor Nir Barkat’s aim was to find a way to streamline the provision of services to neighborhoods both inside and outside the wall.
“The mayor is examining different alternatives for dealing with the difficulties emanating from the lack of compatibility between the security barrier and the municipal borders of Jerusalem in regard to services provided to residents,” a municipality statement said.
Israel refers to all of Jerusalem as its “eternal and undivided capital,” even the Arab eastern sector which it occupied during the 1967 Six Day War and later annexed, and any talk of re-dividing the city is completely taboo.
But the municipality insisted the scheme “does not include changing the borders or the municipal territory of Jerusalem,” and said Barkat “rejects outright” anything which would encroach on the unity of the city.
“The rationale behind the plan is a technical swap of responsibility between the city and the Civil Administration in order to provide services to residents on both sides of the barrier,” it said, referring to the body which carries out practical bureaucratic functions in the Palestinian territories.
Since the barrier went up, the handful of Arab neighborhoods which found themselves on the eastern side have been increasingly cut off from basic services such as rubbish collection, health services, policing and even veterinary services.
Under the scheme, all such services would be provided by the Civil Administration.
There are some 270,000 Palestinians living in east Jerusalem which they want as the capital of their promise state.