Throughout history, Jerusalem has been administered by foreign powers with colonial interests, to the detriment of the native Palestinian population – a history which continues to resonate and drive the discourse on the city today. As a result, Jerusalem is either characterized, by the international community, as the “capital for two peoples” or, by Israel, as the “undivided capital”, both imposing a
fixed outcome for indigenous Palestinians in disregard of their wishes, connection, and legitimate rights to the city.
In this vacuum, and within the context of Israel’s colonization of Palestine, Israel has implemented a 71-year campaign to erase Palestinian presence from and establish full control over the city of Jerusalem. Indeed, Israel’s actions towards the city, from beginning to move its Government ministries to West Jerusalem in 1949, to redrawing the municipal boundaries of the city in 1967, have all been aimed at establishing irreversible facts on the ground before concrete action is taken by the international community. Accordingly, Israel’s policies and practices imposed today in occupied East Jerusalem, ranging from residency revocations to house demolitions, form part of a continuing effort to displace and dispossess Palestinians in Jerusalem, thereby feeding into Israel’s calculated efforts to alter the legal status, character, and demographic composition of the city, in violation of its protected status under international law.
This report seeks to highlight the legal status of the city of Jerusalem, as well as to outline Israel’s policies imposed on Palestinians in Jerusalem, which have changed the physical, social, economic, and cultural landscape of the city, and the effects such changes have had on the Palestinian population. The report also highlights Israel’s legislative measures that aim to drastically alter the character and demographic composition of the city, and to fast-track the forcible transfer of the Palestinian population from occupied East Jerusalem. Specifically, this report will illustrate how the shift in United States’ policy on Jerusalem after December 2017, effectively green-lighted a number of illegal unilateral measures by Israel, including bills and laws, that aim to secure Israel’s full and exclusive control over Jerusalem, the continuous oppression of Palestinians, and the systematic denial of their rights, as enshrined in international law.
Notably, this report will reflect on such measures and analyse their compatibility with international law, while focusing on how the international community has effectively enabled Israel’s illegal consolidation and annexation of the city of Jerusalem. In particular, this report rejects the notion of Jerusalem as a corpus separatum to be placed under international control. The report establishes and emphasizes that the rights of the Palestinian people to self-determination and permanent sovereignty, although violated since 1948, extend nonetheless to the present day, over Jerusalem in its entirety.