European Council on Foreign Relations
Israel

ISRAEL - PALESTINE

TWO-STATE STRESS TEST

Jerusalem

Palestine

Do trends in Jerusalem strain or sustain the prospects of it being the capital of both states?
 

Expanding Israeli presence and high restrictions on Palestinian activity in East Jerusalem hamper the implementation of the two-state solution but are still reversible in the foreseeable future.

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Summary of findings | Download the PDF

Despite occasional claims of an undeclared settlement freeze in East Jerusalem, some important developments have taken place so far in 2013. From January to November 2013, the Israeli government issued tenders for 1,618 housing units in the settlements of Pisgat Ze’ev, Har Homa, Gilo, and Ramat Shlomo. The Israeli government also approved plans for 2,422 units in Ramat Shlomo and Gilo and projects for the Givati parking lot area and for parks in Refaim and on the slopes of Mount Scopus, which will further break the territorial continuity of Palestinian neighbourhoods in East Jerusalem. On 30 October, the Israeli cabinet “reinforced” the planning for the Israeli settlement of Ramat Shlomo in East Jerusalem, which will allow for the building of an additional 1,500 housing units. And finally, on 12 November, Housing Minister Uri Ariel announced a plan to build 4,500 units in a new settlement in Atarot. While the plan was withdrawn on 29 November, it could still be considered for the future. 

At the same time, there has been a rise in demolitions and evictions of Palestinians in East Jerusalem. From January to September 2013, Israeli authorities demolished 80 structures in this part of the city, resulting in the displacement of 257 people. This amounts to a monthly rate of nine demolitions, up from five in 2012, and 28 Palestinians displaced, up from six in 2012.

Meanwhile, none of the processes strengthening Israeli control over East Jerusalem have been rolled back: Israeli authorities have not removed any settler enclaves, have not considered Palestinian involvement in any planning procedures, and continue to restrict Palestinian access to holy places. Moreover, Palestinian Authority (PA) activity in Jerusalem remains banned, and Palestinian institutions have not been re-opened.