Poverty is increasing in east Jerusalem, especially among children, according to a new report released by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel this week. The National Insurance Institute found that 78% of residents and 84% 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 lived under the poverty line.
The 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 four. 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 stated.
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 souq in the Old City and the Salah a Din commercial area in the economic heart of east Jerusalem. After the construction of the barrier, that figure dropped to 4% of Palestinians who shop in east Jerusalem.
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