Report: Israel isolating Palestinians

Red Cross accuses Israel of restricting movement, preventing citizenship.

security fence 88 298 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
security fence 88 298
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
A confidential document of the International Committee of the Red Cross accuses Israel of violating international humanitarian laws in annexed east Jerusalem, isolating Palestinians there from the West Bank and preventing them from getting permanent residency, according to a report published Tuesday. A spokesman for the Red Cross in Jerusalem, Bernard Barrett, confirmed the accuracy of the New York Times report. But he said he could not release the document since it was confidential. The document was released in February to the parties involved, Barrett said. An Israeli spokesman said the document did not take into consideration that Israel had offered citizenship to Palestinian residents in east Jerusalem when it annexed that sector of the city after capturing it in the Six Day War. Most of those Palestinians refused to take Israeli citizenship. The Red Cross found that Israel's security barrier with the West Bank, settlements outside Jerusalem and a thick network of roads prevent the free movement of Palestinians living in the city and nearby West Bank communities, according to the Times. The document found that Israel is showing a "general disregard" for its "obligations under international humanitarian law" in its practices in east Jerusalem, the Times reported. Israel considers Jerusalem its "eternal capital." Palestinians hope to make Jerusalem the capital of a future state. Israel is using its role as an occupier "to further its own interests or those of its own population to the detriment of the population of the occupied territory," which it says is "foreign to the letter and spirit of occupation law," according to the report, the Times said. The committee found that the security barrier, while built to keep out suicide bombers, is also "following a demographic logic, enclosing the settlement blocs around the city while excluding built-up Palestinian areas (thus creating isolated Palestinian enclaves)," the Times said. Israel has received the report but did not accept its conclusions, Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev said. "We reject the premise of the report," he said. "East Jerusalem is not occupied land, it is part of Israel. All people there were offered full Israeli citizenship." Regev said there have been "historic differences" between Israel and the International Committee of the Red Cross, but now Israel has a "good relationship" with the body. But a coalition of eight left-wing groups on Tuesday called on the international community to pressure the Jerusalem Municipality to change its unfair treatment of Palestinians with respect to residency and housing rights, as well as municipal services. In a conversation with The Jerusalem Post, activist Meir Margolit warned that another initifada was on the horizon if the municipality did not improve the conditions of its Palestinian residents. "I am afraid a big explosion will happen in the near future," he said. Margolit belongs to the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions. It is one of eight left-wing groups that banded together this year to form Occupation 40, an organization that addresses issues related to the 40th anniversary of Israel's presence in the territories, including Jerusalem. On Tuesday, it released a report about the treatment of Palestinian residents and neighborhoods in the city. According to the report, a set of discriminatory practices regarding residency status, municipal services and construction was implemented after 1967 with an aim to keep the Palestinian population at 28 percent of the city's residents. According to the report, in spite of the restrictive policies the Palestinian population has grown to 34% of the city's population and is likely to increase to more than 50% by the year 2030.