A section of the controversial Israeli barrier is seen close to a Jewish settlement near Jerusalem .
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Palestinian residents living in neighborhoods beyond the Jerusalem security barrier filed a petition with the Jerusalem District Court on Tuesday, demanding that the city repair their deteriorating infrastructure, which they claim is ridden with unsafe roadways and serviced by only nominal municipal services.
The residents were aided in filing the petition by left-wing NGO Ir Amim, which said the petition against the municipality and Mayor Nir Barkat was filed exactly 10 years since the government first committed to improving infrastructure there.
“Ten years after the government promised to provide essential services to the east Jerusalem neighborhoods beyond the barrier, the Jerusalem Municipality has abandoned tens of thousands of residents,” the document stated, adding that “the situation in these neighborhoods is on the brink of a humanitarian disaster.”
According to the petition, while the municipal budget spends tens of millions of shekels each year repairing roads and neighborhoods in other parts of Jerusalem, it allocates “less than 0.01%” of its annual budget toward areas beyond the barrier.
The petition demands that the city immediately address “the continued neglect and harsh road infrastructure in neighborhoods beyond the barrier” by repairing dilapidated streets, sidewalks, traffic signs, and drainage systems.
“Tens of thousands of Palestinian residents of the city have been cut off from services following the erection of the separation barrier, and at the same time have almost been completely abandoned by state and municipal authorities,” the petition stated.
“In these neighborhoods, there is a total neglect of the physical and social infrastructure, including almost a complete lack of emergency services and educational and welfare services, and its inhabitants are forced to waste valuable time at checkpoints.”
The petition contrasted the exponential growth of the western portion of the capital with what it claimed was stagnation in construction permits and housing options on the other side of the barrier.
“The complete abandonment” of neighborhoods disconnected by the security barrier, the petition continued, has resulted in “displaced residents of east Jerusalem, living in a constant state of fear that this policy of political intent… will finally cut them off from their hometown.”
“The roads in these neighborhoods are very narrow, only partially paved, with no signs, no sidewalks, and no crosswalks,” it added.
“The lives of the petitioners, and tens of thousands of other residents, are in danger every day because of the condition of the roads and neighborhoods because of the lack of the most basic safety measures.”
Despite the petition’s claims of municipal abandonment, Barkat, who oversees the capital’s annual budget, has repeatedly stated that all neighborhoods within the capital are treated equitably in terms of financial allocations.
“Every Jerusalem resident will feel how the budget in 2015 will significantly improve their quality of life in the city,” the mayor said in a statement announcing an additional NIS 770 million infusion from the Finance Ministry earmarked to improve east Jerusalem’s infrastructure.
“The large budget we raised this year will dramatically improve neighborhoods, the city’s appearance, parks and roads, schools, cultural institutions, transportation, municipal services, assistance to the elderly and needy, and reduce gaps between various sectors in the city for all walks of life,” he concluded.