Cabinet to discuss $50 million improvement plan for East Jerusalem
Priorities to include investments in education, improved sewage infrastructure and more efficient trash removal
Sue Surkes is The Times of Israel's environment reporter.
The finance and Jerusalem affairs ministries are to present a joint plan to the cabinet Sunday to improve conditions for Palestinians living in East Jerusalem, Channel 10 News reported Thursday.
The first two clauses — costing NIS 180 million ($50 million) — will deal with the need for better education and for improved sewage infrastructure as well as for more efficient removal of trash.
On Wednesday, President Reuven Rivlin used the 50th anniversary of Jerusalem’s reunification to call for immediate action to improve the quality of life in the predominantly Arab neighborhoods of East Jerusalem, which are among the nation’s poorest.
“We must take urgent care of East Jerusalem,” the president said. “We cannot sing songs of praise for a united Jerusalem while East Jerusalem, the area where 40 percent of its residents live, is the poorest urban area in Israel.”
In a separate development, Channel 10 reported Wednesday that Israel’s National Security Council is considering a plan to transfer control of two East Jerusalem neighborhoods from the Jerusalem Municipality to a yet-to-be established local council.
Despite being part of the city, Kafr Aqab and the Shuafat refugee camp are located on the other side of the security barrier and suffer from a dearth of municipal services.
Under the plan, the two northern neighborhoods — which together compromise around one eighth of Jerusalem’s population — would be moved to a newly established local council that would remain under Israeli control and receive funding for municipal services directly from the state rather than through the municipality, according to Channel 10.
While the report of the plan was welcomed by a number of left-leaning lawmakers, with opposition leader Isaac Herzog saying it would help “ensure a united Jerusalem with a Jewish majority,” the Jerusalem Municipality threw cold water on the idea, telling Channel 10 the establishment of a new local council would not “provide an answer” to the neighborhoods’ problems.