Israeli policies in East Jerusalem since its occupation and unilateral annexation in 1967 but more so since the signing of the Oslo accords in 1993 have hindered development of the city’s economy and created many socioeconomic problems to its Palestinian residents, a new report by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development  (UNCTAD) said on Thursday.
According to the report titled “The Palestinian Economy in East Jerusalem: Enduring Annexation, Isolation and Disintegration,” the deterioration in the socioeconomic conditions in East Jerusalem has had a significant impact on its Palestinian residents in their standards of living, housing, health care and education.
“The weight of the economy of East Jerusalem  has been steadily diminishing relative to that of the rest of occupied Palestinian territories since the signing of the 1993 Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements, known as the Oslo Accords, and related Israeli-Palestinian agreements,” said the report in its executive summary.
“This decline, in large part, has been the result of an array of Israeli policies that have hindered development of the East Jerusalem economy as an integral part of the larger Palestinian economy and labor market. The deterioration in socioeconomic conditions has had a significant impact on Palestinian Jerusalemites in their standards of living, housing, health care and education,” it said.
“Israeli policies have entailed a partial and distorted “integration” of the East Jerusalem Palestinian economy into Israel and its regulatory framework. Meanwhile East Jerusalem has been gradually detached from the rest of the Palestinian economy despite the city’s historic position as the commercial, transport, tourism, cultural and spiritual centre for Palestinians throughout the occupied territory,” explained the report.
UNCTAD said in the first such report on the economy of occupied East Jerusalem that since the onset of the occupation in 1967, Israeli authorities began to pursue a policy of physical, political and economic segregation of East Jerusalem from the rest of the occupied Palestinian territory.
“Segregation strategies gained momentum during the last decade through measures that have altered the physical and demographic realities of the city and its predominantly Palestinian and Arab landscape. These include the city’s annexation and the expansion of Jewish settlements in and around East Jerusalem , as well as the construction of the separation barrier, which has effectively redefined the borders away from the pre-1967 armistice line,” said the report.
“The separation barrier , among other obstacles to movement, hinders movement into and out of East Jerusalem, cuts it off from the remainder of the West Bank, its natural hinterland, and hinders access to its markets and health services by Palestinian Jerusalemites now living on the other side of the barrier nominally under Palestinian Authority jurisdiction. Land expropriation by Israel and restrictions on Palestinian building activities have increased recently,” it said.
The report said that because of the Israeli measures, the East Jerusalem economy finds itself in a world quite apart from the two economies, Palestinian and Israeli, to which it is linked.
“It is at once integrated into neither, yet structurally dependent on the West Bank economy to sustain its production and trade of goods and services and for employment, and forcibly dependent on Israeli markets to whose regulations and systems it must conform and which serve as a source of employment and trade and as the principal channel for tourism to the city.”
UNCTAD suggested that “several actions can help mitigate the effects of segregation policies, but the real prerequisites for sustainable development entail ending the Israeli settlement and occupation of East Jerusalem in accordance with the relevant United Nations resolutions .”
It said that this “would confer significant benefits to the Palestinian economy in general, and to that of East Jerusalem in particular, especially its tourism and services sectors.”
It said that effective short-term interventions include enhanced coordination and planning among international organizations, semi-governmental and nongovernmental bodies operating in East Jerusalem, and the provision of targeted support to specific sectors such as tourism, housing and services.”