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“Israel is turning these places into slums, not allowing the Palestinian Authority to take responsibility for them, but refusing to do so itself,” said Hanan Ashrawi, a senior diplomat in the Palestine Liberation Organization.
The office of Jerusalem’s newly re-elected mayor Nir Barkat said in a statement that it works to “close the gap that has deepened due to the decades of neglect in parts of the city”.
City Hall representatives declined to elaborate on policies in the neighbourhoods despite repeated requests by Reuters.
Last month, Israel approved plans for hundreds of new settler homes in East Jerusalem’s Jewish communities, including Pisgat Ze’ev. The same day, summonses for illegal building were delivered to 18 buildings that house dozens of Palestinian families around Shuafat, raising the spectre of demolition.
“Here there’s no Israeli presence. They built a wall and put us behind it,” said Nabeel Ghaith, whose small store in the Ras Khamis district received one of the notices.
“Where is the democracy for us? It’s just for them.”
Mayor Barkat has proposed that the areas behind the wall be put under the control of the Israeli military, saying they had become too dangerous for municipal workers to enter.
The plan was put on hold after it was met with outrage from residents and even from right-wing Israeli politicians, who oppose relinquishing any of the city.
Outgoing deputy mayor Naomi Tsur told Reuters that not just the Israeli right but also Palestinians - who discourage any local cooperation with Israel in Jerusalem - have stifled development, causing “all pragmatism to exit the scene.”