The hustle and bustle in the streets of Al-Quds. Photo by Ahed Izhiman.
Israel’s policies have, in effect, forced many Palestinians to relocate to neighborhoods isolated from the city center by the apartheid wall and Israeli checkpoints. The city’s youth, despite constituting a significant portion of the Palestinian population, are increasingly unable to sustain their lives in Jerusalem due to escalating housing costs and scarcity of land, coupled with the prohibitive cost and difficulties in obtaining building permits.
This is not mere rhetoric but a stark portrayal of the reality endured by Jerusalemites, substantiated by the numbers. Approximately 375,000 Palestinians reside in occupied East Jerusalem, with over 120,000 living in neighborhoods isolated by the apartheid wall. The occupying power has revoked the residency of more than 1,408 Palestinians since 1967. Seventy-five percent of Palestinian families in East Jerusalem live below the poverty line, with 86 percent of Palestinian children falling into the same category.
In the midst of this darkness, we seek to ignite a beacon of hope. With a resilient team and consultation from local, regional, and international institutions, various sectors, and personalities in Jerusalem, we at the Ministry of Jerusalem Affairs have crafted an ambitious development plan. This includes a catalog of immediately implementable projects in sectors such as health, education, housing, tourism, culture, youth, and women.
Our aim through this unprecedented plan is to effect tangible changes, improving the daily lives of Jerusalemites. We strive to fortify the resolve of Jerusalemites by bolstering youth, women’s, cultural, economic, and social institutions. At the Ministry of Jerusalem Affairs, we firmly believe in human development as an essential facet of preserving the city and its identity. This includes investing in human potential and revitalizing sectors such as women and youth.
Taking a nap under the walls of Al-Quds. Photo by Ahed Izhiman.
We are committed to creating opportunities for sustainable development within the city. This involves nurturing cultural, social, health, and educational incubators and honing their skills and professionalism to preserve the Palestinian Arab identity.
The Jerusalem Conference back in February at the League of Arab States in Cairo shaped and reiterated the development and political needs in Jerusalem. In recent times, and following up on the Cairo conference, I have had the opportunity to visit Doha, the Qatari capital, to discuss the implementation of these projects. The preliminary responses have been positive, and I assure you that I will leave no stone unturned in the pursuit of financing and investment for these projects.
Inhumane conditions at checkpoints. Photo by Ahed Izhiman.
However, we are under no illusions. We do not claim to possess a magic solution to alter the current circumstances. The ultimate solution lies in bringing an end to the Israeli occupation that began 56 years ago.