This week PA president Mahmoud Abbas held a highly inflammatory speech during a conference in Doha where the ‘defense’ of Al Quds (Jerusalem) was discussed.
He accused Israel of conducting a campaign that “uses the most ugly means to erase the Arab-Islamic character of East Jerusalem”. He also said that “Muslims should fight ‘Judaization’ of the city”, meaning replacing Arabs with Jews (ethnic cleansing)
The best rebuttal of Abbas’ false claim about the ethnic cleansing of the Arab residents of Jerusalem are the population statistics of the city. They show an increase of Arab citizens in Jerusalem ever since the Six Day War in 1967.
But the publication of a new five year plan that aims to improve the living conditions of the Arab residents in East Jerusalem by the Jerusalem Municipalty on February 29th is the latest evidence that Abbas lied.
An English summary of the plan that was released in Hebrew, can be read below:
Jerusalem Municipalty releases five year plan for improving living conditions in Arab Neighborhoods in East-Jerusalem
About half a billion NIS will be invested in the building of roads and infrastructure in Arab neighborhoods in East Jerusalem.
Israel Katz, Minister of Transport and Road Safety, and Nir Barkat, Mayor of Jerusalem announced on Wednesday February 29th the implementation of a plan for the development of the infrastructure and transportation in East Jerusalem. The plan will take several years and will cost about half a billion NIS.
According to the plan the Israeli Ministry of Transportation and the Municipality of Jerusalem will fund this program with 50 million NIS each year during the next five years. New roads will be built and the existing infrastructure and roads will be renovated. Accessibility to these roads and their infrastructure will be provided for all neighborhoods in East Jerusalem.
As part of the plan about 30 projects of multi-lane roads will be executed, among them 8 roads in the Bet-Hanina neighborhood, 2 roads in the Wadi al-Joz neighborhood, 8 roads in the Ras al-Amud, A-Tur and Silwan neighborhoods, 7 roads in Bet Tzafafa, Shuarafat and Dahara neighborhoods, 7 roads in the Sur Bahr, Um Tuba, Jabel Mukabr and Arav al-Swahara, and two roads in Isawiya and more.
The plan for the new roads in the East side of the city has been consolidated in cooperation with the community councils and representatives of the inhabitants of the various neighborhoods. This has been done in order to set a list of priorities for the development of the neighborhoods and to answer the requests of the inhabitants of the neighborhoods.
Minister Katz and Mayor Barkat emphazised that the program will result in a measurable improvement of the living standards and municipal services in the Arab neighborhoods of East Jerusalem. The program will give better access to the different neighborhoods, schools, public institutions and businesses, it will also give planning perspectives to the inhabitants of these neighborhoods.
The improvement of the infrastructure and roads in East Jerusalem will lead to economic and urban development. It is expected that these improvements will reduce illegal building and building offences significantly.
In addition more than 200 million NIS will be invested in additional projects for the building of various roads that will pass through East Jerusalem and which will be a transportation alternative to road no. 1.
These roads are intended to improve access to the Arab neighborhoods in East Jerusalem. Among the most prominent projects are the Northern Bethlehem Road, the American Road, the Mazmuria Road, the improvement and upgrading of the Wadi al-Joz Road and Road no. 21, which runs parallel to the Bet Hanina Road.
There will also be an investment of 20 million NIS to improve the security of the roads and sidewalks in the various Arab neighborhoods. Security improvements will include the building of sidewalks, safety barriers, parking spots and speed bumps etc.
The Ministry of Transportation and the Jerusalem Municipality have inaugurated the new public transportation terminal in East Jerusalem (Nevi’im Terminal) which together with the light rail train is intended to improve the transportation services and access to the city center for the inhabitants of East Jerusalem.
Mayor Barkat said that “the road revolution that we have announced today will bring significant improvements to the quality of life of the inhabitants of East Jerusalem. This revolution is part of an unprecedented effort to lessen the decades-long gaps in education, construction and services for the inhabitants. It has been proved that if we invest more in the neighborhoods they will become less neglected and therefore there will be a reduction of building offences and violence.”
This new project for the building of roads etc. is part of the initiatives that the Jerusalem Municipality has undertaken since Nir Barkat started his term as mayor. These projects are carried out in the fields of education, social services, business and infrastructure among others.
During Barkat’s term various schools have been built in East Jerusalem yielding a total of 200 new classrooms. the Jerusalem Municipality is currently investing more than 300 million NIS in building an additional 200 class rooms in neighborhoods such as Ras al-Amud, Um Tuba and Bet Hanina (school for special education).
In addition the municipality will build two new sport halls in Bet Tzafafa and Isawiya. The Municipality is also giving about 1720 computers and laptops to schools, kindergartens and teachers in East Jerusalem, and another 350 computers to students. In addition six schools in East Jerusalem will receive “smart rooms”, with interactive media and enhanced technology.
In the area of social services the municipality will establish two new social services offices in the Mamuniya and Sur Baher neighborhoods, and a new medical center will be established in Bet-Hanina. The Municipality has also started to promote some new programs, including a “young leadership” program in East Jerusalem.
Furthermore as part of a program to strengthen the Gypsy community in the Old City of Jerusalem the municipality has opened two study centers in two different schools where 40 students/school children will study and an “empowerment group” has been established which will work with children aged 13-17 by means of music (music therapy).
In addition the municipality has opened a new ordination program for inhabitants of East Jerusalem so that they can be incorporated in the public services system. At the moment the municipality is also trying to establish an urban employment center in East Jerusalem.
Mayor Barkat believes that it is important to work with and for the inhabitants in East Jerusalem. The Municipality is also working very hard to rehabilitate and strengthen the community councils in all the neighborhoods of East Jerusalem, by means of financial aid, the appointment of new leaders and new work plans or by establishing new buildings for various activities.
Last summer approximately 5000 children went to subsidized summer camps.
In the field of business promotion the municipality will work to establish two additional merchant commissions in the Mt.of Olives neighborhood and the Abu Tor neighborhood. These commissions are intended to cooperate with the existing merchant commission in Wadi al-Joz. A new cultural and business center will be built in Sur Baher.
Finally, the municipality is initiating a mapping project in East Jerusalem, which has as its goal the recording of the name of the owner or inhabitant of every property, this is being done to rationalize postal and related services.
As part of this project the municipality has created geographical data bases of information about East Jerusalem. So far the project has mapped 23,000 houses and 56,300 properties, in addition existing streets have been mapped and 86 streets without names have been given new names in four neighborhoods in East Jerusalem.
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