Israel's discriminatory "segregation policies" in occupied East Jerusalem have forced the isolation of Palestinians living in the city, driving households to extreme poverty compared to both Israelis and Palestinians living elsewhere, according to a new United Nations report published Thursday.
The report by the UN's Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), The Palestinian economy in East Jerusalem: Enduring annexation, isolation and disintegration, found that 82 percent of Palestinian children in East Jerusalem were living in poverty in 2010, compared to 45 percent of Israeli children in the same area.
Further, between 2009 and 2010, the poverty rate of Palestinian households in the city rose from 68 percent to 77 percent, compared to 25% just percent of Israeli households in (both East and West) Jerusalem which were classified as poor in 2010.
East Jerusalem is home to the largest concentration of Palestinians, with over 280,000 living in the city and another 80,000 in the surrounding suburbs.
As the report explains, following the 1967 Israeli occupation, "authorities began to pursue a policy of physical, political and economic segregation of East Jerusalem from the rest of the occupied Palestinian territory (OPT)," employing strategies such as the city’s annexation, the expansion of Jewish settlements and the construction of separation wall.
The seperation barrier between the West Bank and Jerusalem has cut off many city-dwelling Palestinians from access to family and other resources.
These actions "have served to effectively leave the East Jerusalem economy to fend for itself in a developmental limbo, severed from Palestinian Authority jurisdiction and subordinated to the Jewish population imperatives and settlement strategies of Israeli municipal and State authorities,” UNCTAD asserts.
However, UNCTAD notes that isolation alone is not responsible for the surge in poverty. Israel's apartheid policies, such as the different legal status of the city's Palestinian inhabitants compared to Israelis and other Palestinians and restrictive access permits, are as much to blame for the hardship and economic crisis.
The result is that Palestinian Jerusalemites and the East Jerusalem economy have thus suffered from "high and rising rates of poverty, faltering industry and services, restricted investment, housing shortages, and inferior social and municipal services."
The report estimates that, since its construction began in 2003, the Israeli separation barrier has imposed over $1 billion in direct losses to East Jerusalem and an estimated loss of around $200 million per year in lost trade and employment opportunities.