A confidential report penned by the European Union has been exposed by British newspaper The Guardian today, revealing Israel’s plans to annex East Jerusalem. Through arbitrary house demolitions and the pursuit of active expansion of Israeli settlements inside the city, Israel is attempting to control a primarily Palestinian area of the city in order to further isolate the West Bank. These policies are seriously diminishing Palestine’s territorial authority and could lead to Jerusalem becoming permanently Israeli. Israel’s Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said that Palestinians living in Jerusalem benefited from improved living conditions compared to those in the West Bank, adding they were offered full Israeli citizenship in 1967.  “We are committed to the continued development of the city for the benefit of all its population”, he said.

East Jerusalems security fence. © Moshe Milner, 2004

East Jerusalem's "security fence". © Moshe Milner, 2004

This report is unambiguously accusing Israel of violating more international laws as foreign territory is being annexed as Israeli land without any consultation or approval. Specifically targeting the demolition of Palestinian property, the report believes Israel’s attitude in East Jerusalem is ‘illegal […], serve no obvious purpose, have severe humanitarian effects, and fuel bitterness and extremism”, an opinion formal EU diplomatic representatives have shared with Olmert last December.  Because Israel hardly issues more than two hundred construction permits per year, Palestinians are forced to resort to illegal home building in a city where only 12% is reserved for their use. Palestinians represent approximatively 34% of the East Jerusalem population, but only receive 5 to 10% of the city council budget, making infrastructures obsolete and insufficient to serve the Palestinian community, left to either leave East Jerusalem or suffer from institutionalized discrimination. Instead of admitting they do not want Palestinians in Jerusalem, Olmert and his government made sure Palestinians would leave of their own accord by creating impossible living standards.

According to Jerusalem officials, this report is biased and aimed at creating a “disinformation campaign” against Israeli policies in the divided city. “Mayor Nir Barkat continues to promote investments in infrastructure, construction and education in East Jerusalem, while at the same time upholding the law throughout West and East Jerusalem equally without bias”, said the city council around the time United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton paid them a visit. Israel seems to be paving the way for Jerusalem to become the new capital of its state, regardless of the city technically located in Palestinian territory. Annexing several areas around it since 1967, the European Union is claiming Israeli settlements are in complete violation of the Geneva Convention that prohibits “extension of territory by an occupying force”; in other words, extensive colonialism. Trying to create a continuous link between the West Bank and Jerusalem, in a strategic zone called “E1”,  the Guardian reports that Israel is planning on 3,500 housing units, an industrial park, two police stations, and several industrial complexes in this area, already home to more than 31,000 Israeli colons, despite a claim of sovereignty by Palestine.

The report asserts that this attempt to take over Jerusalem is “one of the most significant challenges to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process”.