RAMALLAH, January 8 (JMCC) - Jerusalem's Israeli mayor has proposed changing the city's boundaries to exclude tens of thousands of Palestinians that currently live within the municipality but outside a Wall that Israel has constructed through areas it occupied in 1967, reports the Jerusalem Post
Because Palestinian Jerusalemites are required they prove that they live in the city in order to maintain Jerusalem residency documents, the move would ultimately mean the expulsion of these Palestinians.
“We must relinquish areas of the municipality that are located outside of the fence,” [Nir] Barkat said in his speech last week. “I recommend keeping the fence the way it is, and relinquishing parts of the municipality that are on the other side of the fence and annexing the areas confined on the Israeli side of the fence that are not under the responsibility of the municipality.”
The security barrier around Jerusalem is mostly finished, except for the area around Ma’aleh Adumim and other, smaller, areas. The path of the barrier does not follow the municipal boundaries of Jerusalem.
Approximately 60,000 Jerusalem residents live on the PA side of the barrier in municipal Jerusalem, in five major neighborhoods of Kafr Aqab, the Shuafat refugee camp, Semiramis, Zughayer and Atarot.
Additionally, around 20,000 Palestinians live in small pockets of land on the Israeli side of the barrier in land in “Area B,” under Israeli security and PA civilian control.
The idea is to annex the Area B parts, and give up the parts of Jerusalem outside the barrier. According to a municipal source familiar with the project, the exchange would result in a very small territorial gain for Jerusalem, with a loss of approximately 40,000 Arab residents.
“This is a vision for a defensible and sovereign border,” said the source, who explained that the mayor recognized the difficulty in providing services to those areas and wanted to manage the city “as efficiently as possible.”
“It is a very serious strategic challenge the mayor has been thinking about and learning about,” said the source. “It is a net gain, we are not dividing the city, we are changing parts of the border,” he added.
However, it is the first time the mayor, who has frequently vowed that Jerusalem will never be divided, has modified that position. The mayor has not formally presented the plan to the Defense Ministry or the prime minister or any other authority.