Israel is putting in place the final pieces of a Greater Jewish Jerusalem that will require “ethnically cleansing” tens of thousands of Palestinians from a city their families have lived and worked in for generations, human rights groups have warned.
The pace of physical and demographic changes in the city has accelerated dramatically since Israel began building a steel and concrete barrier through the city’s Palestinian neighbourhoods more than a decade ago, according to the rights groups and Palestinian researchers.
Israel is preparing to cement these changes in law, they note. Two parliamentary bills with widespread backing among government ministers indicate the contours of Jerusalem’s future.
One bill intends to annex to Jerusalem some 150,000 Jews in illegal West Bank settlements surrounding the city. As well as bolstering the city’s Jewish population, the move will give these additional settlers a vote in Jerusalem’s municipal elections, pushing it politically even further to the right.
Another bill will deny more than 100,000 Palestinians on the “wrong” side of the barrier rights in the city. They will be assigned to a separate local council for Palestinians only, in what observers fear will be a prelude to stripping them of residency and barring them from Jerusalem.
Meanwhile, a web of harsh Israeli policies, including late-night arrests, land shortages, home demolitions and a denial of basic services, are intensifying the pressure on…