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Study: 80 percent of East Jerusalemites live below poverty line

May 7, 2013 8:47 P.M. (Updated: May 9, 2013 3:26 P.M.)
JERUSALEM (AFP) -- Eight out of 10 Palestinians in East Jerusalem live below the poverty line, a watchdog said on Tuesday, as Israelis prepared to celebrate capturing the Arab sector of the Holy City in 1967.

Almost 80 percent of "east Jerusalem residents live below the poverty line -- the worst rate of all time," the Association for Civil Rights in Israel said in a report.

The study, which looked at the effects of Israeli policy on the "basic rights" of Palestinian residents, was published a day ahead of Jerusalem Day, when Israel marks the "reunification" of the city after it captured the Arab eastern sector during the 1967 Six-Day War.

Israel later annexed East Jerusalem in a move never recognized by the international community.

Today, the Palestinian population numbers 293,000 in a city which counts roughly 800,000 residents, UN figures show.

The study also said that Israel's West Bank separation barrier was cutting East Jerusalem off from the West Bank, "exacerbating the already dire economic and social conditions for residents."

It said around 90,000 Palestinians with blue Jerusalem identity cards "pass through checkpoints on a daily basis in order to get to work, attend school, obtain medical services (and) visit family."

Hospitals in East Jerusalem were suffering financial difficulties due to the low numbers of patients and medical staff able to reach them from the West Bank, it said.

Poor infrastructure meant there was a shortage of "some 50 kilometers (30 miles) of sewage pipes. Residents rely instead on septic tanks, and repeated flooding of these systems causes serious health hazards."

Only 46 percent of students study in municipal schools which are suffering from a "chronic shortage" of classrooms.

And school leavers who pass the Tawjihi, the Palestinian high school test, often find it difficult to get accepted to Israeli universities, while degrees from some Palestinian universities are not recognized in Israel, ACRI said.

Since 1967, "Israeli governments have expropriated one-third of Palestinian lands in Jerusalem, upon which thousands of apartments have been built for the city's Jewish population," it noted.

In 2012, Israel's Interior Ministry revoked the residency status of 116 Jerusalem Palestinians, bringing the total number over 46 years to more than 14,000 people who "are no longer permitted to live in their city."
Ma'an News Agency
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