Monday, July 27, 2009

Myth: Anyone, Jew or Arab, can purchase a home anywhere in Jerusalem (Netanyahu)

Conservative spin: Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu "claimed that anyone, Jew or Arab, could purchase a dwelling anywhere in Jerusalem, and pointed to a few dozen Arab residents in Jewish neighborhoods like French Hill and Pisgat Zeev."

The Facts:

1. "It is virtually impossible for an East Jerusalem Arab (who is a resident of Israel but not a citizen) to buy a home in most of West Jerusalem or in many Jewish neighborhoods in East Jerusalem, where the land is leased only to full-fledged Israeli citizens by a state ownership institution."

2. "These neighborhoods [French Hill and Pisgat Zeev] are in East Jerusalem, annexed by Israel in 1967. That's what the controversy over Jerusalem is all about. Arabs who moved there did so due to the housing shortage in Arab East Jerusalem.

That housing shortage was brought on by two factors. One is construction of the Jerusalem security barrier, which separates East Jerusalem from the West Bank and makes it extremely difficult for Arabs to live outside the city and commute to work there. The second factor is the failure over the past 42 years of the government of Israel and the Jerusalem municipality to issue all but a handful of housing construction licenses for Arab residents of the city." (Israeli security analyst and former Mossad official Yossi Alpher, Jewish Settlement in East Jerusalem: Working at Cross-Purposes, Bitterlemons, 7/27/09)

"The FACT is that while American Jews like Irving Moskowitz can buy land in East Jerusalem Arab neighborhoods, a Palestinian resident of, say, Sheikh Jarrah cannot purchase an apartment in many parts of west Jerusalem, because the Israel Lands Administration, which owns the land, will only enter into a contract with Israeli citizens of persons entitled to citizenship under the Law of Return." (Former Jerusalem Post editor-in-chief Jeff Barak, Netanyahu's Self-Inflicted Crisis, Jerusalem Post, 7/26/09)