Poverty is increasing in east Jerusalem, especially among children, according to
a report the Association for Civil Rights in Israel released this
The National Insurance Institute found that 78 percent of residents
and 84 percent of children lived under the poverty line in east Jerusalem in
2010. This is even higher than the poverty rate for 2006, when 64% of east
Jerusalem and 73% of children there lived under the poverty line.
Welfare and Social Services ministry recently placed the poverty line at a
monthly income of NIS 2,268 per person or NIS 5,807 for a family of
The main reasons for poverty in east Jerusalem are the separation
barrier, which inhibits a free flow of commercialism, cultural norms
discouraging women to work, and poor education that prevents Arab students from
learning Hebrew and continuing on to higher education, the report
The hassle of dealing with a border crossing has dissuaded many
Palestinians from villages in the “Jerusalem envelope” on the other side of the
barrier from shopping in the city.
According to the report, 18% of
Palestinians in neighboring villages used to regularly patronize the shuk in the
Old City and the Salah a Din commercial area in the economic heart of east
Jerusalem. After the construction of the barrier in 2003, that figure dropped to
4% of Palestinians who shop in east Jerusalem.
In east Jerusalem’s
crumbling school system, students learn Hebrew as their third language after
English and Arabic – and sometimes even as a fourth language.
school visit to a girls’ high school in 2010, MK Danny Danon (Likud), who used
to head the Committee on the Rights of the Child, was shocked that so few
students could converse with him. The lack of Hebrew means that students are not
able to get jobs in west Jerusalem, and are forced to work in menial labor such
as the service industry or construction.
Jordanian/Palestinian Tawjhi matriculation exams do not enable Arab students to
continue on to an Israeli university without completing at least a year of study
for the Israeli matriculation exams. At a hearing on Tuesday, Jerusalem Mayor
Nir Barkat pointed out that east Jerusalem suffers from a 40% drop out rate
because the students see very little value in a high school diploma. The female
students drop out because they wed before they complete 12th grade and the male
students drop out to go to work.
The cultural norms of east Jerusalem,
which discourage women from working outside the home, make it difficult for
families to pull themselves out of the cycle of poverty. Out of the Arab female
population of working age, 85% of women do not work, even part
Women are generally expected to stay home to raise the children,
clean and cook, the report found. Even women who work part time are expected to
fulfill all household duties, putting them in an impossible conflict between
personal and professional life.
The severe lack of daycare options in the
eastern part of the city means that even if women wanted to it is difficult to
leave the house to work.
According to the survey, in the 2011-2012 school
year, 433 Arab children in east Jerusalem were enrolled in municipality nursery
schools, despite the fact that there are approximately 15,000 nurseryschool aged