Israel’s Policy in Occupied East Jerusalem Push for “Voluntarily” & “Quiet Transfer” of Palestinians from the city

Israel’s Policy in Occupied East Jerusalem Push for “Voluntarily” & “Quiet Transfer” of Palestinians from the city

General Glance

 In the last 15 years, Israel has intensified its policy of targeting and destroying Palestinian residents in the occupied Palestinian Territory particularly in East Jerusalem. The demolition process were carried out under several pretexts, the most notable and appalling of which are lacking of building permits, or as a adopted collective punishment procedure, or under the pretext of security purposes, all of which causing thousands of Palestinians to become homeless and without shelter because of the Israeli belligerent demolition of their houses under unjustifiable and unwarranted  pretexts as affirmed within the international law and human rights convention, particularly the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949, Article 53, which states: Any destruction by the Occupying Power of real or personal property belonging individually or collectively to private persons, or to the State, or to other public authorities, or to social or cooperative organizations, is prohibited, except where such destruction is rendered absolutely necessary by military operations.


Quiet Transfer

In the city of Jerusalem the Israeli policy of demolishing the Palestinians houses is part of a plan of displacement and quiet transfer that uses administrative, planning and legal mechanisms to force Palestinians out of their city, thereby establishing large Jewish majority in the occupied city, regardless of ways and means to emphasize and to consolidate the Israeli vision  of Jerusalem as the undivided, eternal capital of Israel.


The Israeli policy of displacement started after 1948 war when the Israeli occupation forces systematically erased the presence of entire Palestinian villages and neighborhoods demolishing thousands of the Palestinian houses in Al-Latroun villages cluster, Al-Walajeh village and others.


In 1967, with Israel occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, an entire sector of the Old City of Jerusalem (Al-Magharbeh neighborhood) was demolished. From that point on, Israel persisted with its house demolishing policy in the West Bank with particular emphasis on occupied East Jerusalem using various and illegal pretexts to that end. During the first Palestinian Intifada in 1987, Israel started to use the demolishing of the Palestinian houses as a 'collective punishment' in retaliation to Palestinian resistance against the Israeli occupation. Later and after the outbreak of the Second Palestinian Intifada in the year 2000, the number of Palestinian houses demolished by Israel had rapidly increased under pretext of security and military purposes, lacking of building permits especially in the city of Jerusalem which are facing a new (third) catastrophe after 1948 and 1967 calamities.


Currently, and due to incapacitating policies imposed by the Israeli municipality of Jerusalem on Palestinian Jerusalemites applying for building permits, thousands of Palestinian houses in the city of Jerusalem are built without permits and thus classified illegal, which makes them subject to demolishing at any time. Furthermore, Palestinians Jerusalemites are usually denied permits to increase the built-up areas, particularly within East Jerusalem. In other words, the Palestinians in Jerusalem are deprived by Israel from building and expanding horizontally or vertically, they became marginalized in their city and homeland.


During the past 15 years of the peace process and in contradictory to what was agreed on in article XXXI of the 1995 Oslo agreement that: 'Neither side shall initiate or take any step that will change the status of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip pending the outcome of the permanent status negotiations'.


Israel continued to demolish Palestinians' houses using the same pretext. The following table and chart shows number of Palestinian Jerusalemites residents demolished during the past 15 years of the peace process.

Palestinian Houses demolished in occupied East Jerusalem between the years 1993 – 2007
Year 1993 – March 2007)
















March 07*

Houses Demolished
















Source: ARIJ Database    


Racial Discrimination

At the time the Israeli occupation assumed control on the city of Jerusalem in 1967 , vast lands surrounding Palestinian villages and neighborhoods were expropriated by the Israeli occupation to build Jewish neighborhoods, leaving no room for Palestinian construction. Moreover, the Israeli Municipality of Jerusalem had not interest to say the least to put development plans for the Palestinian neighborhoods. In fact, much of the Palestinians' empty space areas were classified as 'Green Areas' in order restrict new Palestinian constructions or expansion of existing ones, forcing many Palestinians to build homes without building permit. The Jerusalem Municipality enforces the building laws on Palestinians much more stringently than on the Jewish population, thus coercing new facts on the ground to enforce Palestinian Jerusalemites to voluntary evacuate their city.


To Conclude

Whatever the justifications used by Israel to demolish Palestinians' houses, Israel and under the international law rules and legitimacy, are forbidden form demolishing the Palestinian houses and properties under any circumstances or justifications.


On the ground, Israel is tightening on the Palestinians living in East Jerusalem, once by demolishing their houses under the pretext of lacking building permits, or by the allocation of limited areas for the Palestinians to build in, taking into account that issuing building permits is often impossible because of the incapacitating standards imposed by the Israeli authorities to make chance to issue building licenses to the Palestinian Jerusalemites equal to zero.


Israel by adopting such polices and procedures aim at consolidating the Jewish dominance over the Holy City ,conversely, curbing the Palestinian existence and makes the life intolerable in the city, but also it shows unwillingness and indifference  to reach a just and lasting peace agreement with the Palestinians, in which East Jerusalem is the Palestinian capital.




Prepared by
The Applied Research Institute – Jerusalem

Categories: Reports