Israel will increase both security spending and its investment in East Jerusalem’s local infrastructure.
Israel’s cabinet announced that it has appropriated 300 million NIS ($85 million) for a socio-economic development plan in the Arab dominated Eastern half of Jerusalem. The country says that the plan is being implemented in response to security threats in the area in recent years and that it includes funding for more police there as well as the placement of new security cameras.
The announcement comes in response to a government study called the Mendelblit Report submitted by an inter-ministerial committee led by Cabinet Minister Avichai Mendelblit, which researched the problems facing East Jerusalem. The committee saw that the conditions in East Jerusalem are deteriorating because of insufficient government investment in the area’s infrastructure and education and a lack of law enforcement. The report also cited declining social welfare standards.
The committee included Housing Minister Uri Ariel, director general of the Prime Minister’s Office Harel Locker, Director General of the Ministry for Jerusalem and Diaspora Affairs Dvir Kahana and Jerusalem District Police Commander Major General Yossi Pariente. It began its study in 2013.
Local police have provided figures that showed 390 incidents of stone-throwing at the police and vehicles in East Jerusalem throughout the months of March and April.
According to the report the violence in east Jerusalem shows that Israel’s government cannot effectively exercise its sovereignty over East Jerusalem. It stated that, “Integrated action by different government authorities, with unbending enforcement and punishment of those who seek to undermine Israeli control in these areas is required to improve the living conditions for residents and decrease incentives for disturbances.”
But the committee also saw a link between the violence and the deteriorating living conditions in East Jerusalem.
Jerusalem’s City Hall issued a statement saying, ”One of the main goals of the plan that was approved is to bring about a significant decline in violence by means of integrated activity to reduce gaps in infrastructure, employment, education and social welfare and by boosting enforcement and personal security. According to Israel police assessments, the plan will lead to a significant decline in the short- and medium-term of over 50 percent in displays of violence.”
While NIS 95 million ($27 million) will go to hiring more police officers for the city, much of the remaining funds will be used to improve education and the quality of life for East Jerusalem residents.
Another NIS 47 million ($13 million) will go to providing East Jerusalem schools with new computers. NIS 48 million ($13.3 million) will be earmarked for investments in small business and job counseling centers to help deal with the regions unemployment problems. NIS 39 million ($11.5 million) will be dedicated to substance abuse programs and welfare assistance for youth.
Finally, the plan calls for spending NIS 67 million ($19 million) on the maintenance and improvement of public buildings, transportation, road safety, sewage and lighting.
According to the Jerusalem City Hall there are 306, 000 Arab residents in East Jerusalem, constituting 38% of the city’s total population. East Jerusalem was officially annexed as part of the State of Israel after the 1967 Six Day War. As such, its Arab residents are entitled to Israeli citizenship. But they refuse to accept it for political reasons.
Instead they have been required to accept permanent residency status in Israel, which grants them the same social benefits as citizens. While they have the right to vote in the City’s municipal elections, they consistently decline to do so.