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Thursday, May 21, 2009
Response by the Jerusalem Municipality to Recent Claims Regarding Eastern Jerusalem

For Immediate Release:
Contact: Stephan Miller
Aide to Mayor Nir Barkat
Foreign Affairs and Media
Office of Mayor Nir Barkat
miller@jerusalem.muni.il

Response by the Jerusalem Municipality to Recent Claims Regarding Eastern
Jerusalem

The recent claims are distorted and erroneous and accompanied by much
disinformation and irresponsible provocation of the matter without knowing
the actual facts.

The attempt to present Mayor Barkat, who has served for less than six
months, as responsible for the omissions of the Government and the
Municipality over the past 40 years is populist. Mayor Barkat, who visits
the east of the city frequently is also not happy, to put it mildly, with
the status quo and is preparing long term programs to improve change of the
quality of life in the east of the city.

In contrast to that claimed, and as the numerical data shows, there has been
no change to the enforcement policies and the Mayor has not instructed that
they be reinforced. Here too as regards the demolition policies, as the
statistical data indicate, there has been no change regarding the
demolitions on average over the past years.

It should be noted that the Mayor is not permitted to intervene at all in
the majority of the orders which are judicial orders issued by the courts.

Mayor Barkat sees great importance in raising the standard of living and the
quality of life in the east of the city and this after many years of
neglect. In an unprecedented act the Mayor appointed a portfolio holder for
the east of the city, Yakir Segev, with the aim of improving and upgrading
the services provided to the residents of eastern Jerusalem.

The Mayor is preparing a multi-annual strategic program for improving the
infrastructures and education in the east of the city and for planned
construction; however it is clear that all the results cannot be seen within
200 days.

Mayor Barkat has prepared a comprehensive education program and in addition
has succeeded, in the short period of time he has served, to introduce
13,500 additional residential units that shall be constructed for the
residents of the east of the city within the framework of a master plan.

The data regarding the budget are also incorrect and this is because the
budget for construction, roads, infrastructures etc is not allocated
according to geographical areas.
Furthermore, a multi-annual traffic development program has been prepared at
a scope of NIS 250 million.

The claims on the subject of sanitation are also incorrect and this as the
sanitation procedures in the east of the city have been improved and are
currently being updated.

It is regretful that recent claims distorted information as a tool for
political taunting which has nothing to do with civil rights.

Specific Subjects Raised Recently:

Claims regarding demolition of houses

In contrast to that claimed, since the Mayor of Jerusalem took office, there
has been no change to the enforcement policies of the Municipality and there
is no truth to the claims as if an instruction was given to reinforce them.
The Municipality undertakes to honour the law and enforcement of judicial
orders as is required of every law-abiding citizen in general and of
functionaries in particular.

Table of Demolition Data in Recent Years

Year ---Eastern Western Total
2004---115-----13------128
2005---076-----32------108
2006---071-----37------108
2007---069-----35------104
2008---086-----42------128
2009---021-----20------041

As the Legal Counsel of the Municipality clarified in the majority of the
cases legal proceedings were taken which were carried out by the
professional and legal echelons of the Municipality, according to the
Municipality's obligation to act according to law. Implementation of the
legal decisions is not under the control of the Mayor and he has no
involvement in the matter.

The law provides each Mayor in Israel with the power only to issue
administrative demolition orders. This power is dependent on consultation
with legal counsel and it relates to new buildings for which no more than 30
days have passed since completion and occupation. This situation is not
relevant for the majority of illegal buildings which were recently in the
headlines. Also in those situations the builder was given the option of
petitioning the court and requesting deferment or cancellation of the
administrative order, which was applied in the majority of the cases.

The enforcement policy of the Jerusalem Municipality is implemented without
discrimination between the various parts of the city and the various
communities that reside in it. Since January demolition orders have been
executed throughout the city for 20 buildings in the west of the city and to
21 buildings in the east.

Administrative demolition orders are issued according to identical criteria
throughout the city. The Jerusalem Municipality does not, and shall not,
have a policy which aim is to discriminate between the various sectors
living and residing in Jerusalem.

The attempt to go against law enforcement, respect for authority, and
ensuring the observance of the law camouflaged as nationalistic claims of
one kind or another is part of a political campaign which does not have, and
shall not have, any influence on the administrative conduct of the Jerusalem
Municipality.

It should be noted that frequently the illegal building comes at the expense
of public areas such as schools, designated for the residents themselves,
sometimes in an area not even under their ownership and sometimes while
harming neighbours and the needs of the general public in a manner that does
not allow the Municipality to supervise the quality of the construction and
prevent disasters. Many complaints are received from the residents of the
east of the city themselves.

Promotion of Building Solutions

The Municipality is of the opinion that in the east of the city there are
many disparities on a variety of civil and municipal matters. Since the
Mayor took office several months ago many and unprecedented actions have
been taken to promote construction, infrastructures and education. Unlike in
the past the municipal mechanism works diligently on genuine programs based
on master and overall plans and not just announcements empty of content for
the media and as lip service.

While the previous city leadership found it convenient to neglect the east
of the city, the current leadership has decided to take responsibility for
all the city residents wherever they are located:

In an unprecedented move the Mayor appointed a portfolio holder for the east
of the city, Yakir Segev, with the objective of improving and updating the
services provided to the residents of eastern Jerusalem.

In the pipeline are multi-system plans for strengthening, developing and
expanding the Arab neighbourhoods in Jerusalem, which include tens of
thousands of residential units that shall be constructed within the
framework of specific programs.

Thus within the framework of the master plan, which was updated after 50
years, the Mayor presented plans for 13,550 additional residential units for
the residents of the east of the city, whereby up to the year 2030 10,000
units will be available for construction (70% of the total), with the
significant supplements in the neighbourhoods of A-Tor (about 1,500), Beit
Hanina - Shoafat (2,500 units), Tel Adasa (2,000 units), Jabel Muchbar
(2,500 units), the center of eastern Jerusalem (750) as well as putting into
place infrastructures and more.

The Jerusalem Municipality is of the opinion that the rights of all the city
residents deserve an appropriate and fitting acknowledgement.

Housing Difficulties in Western and Eastern Jerusalem

The housing hardship, crowding and costliness of housing are not only a
problem in the east of the city as the report presents, but in the west too.
The Municipality is promoting solutions for coping with the problem both in
the west and the east of the city. The Municipality intends to implement the
law regarding the obligations imposed on it with integrity, equality and
transparency towards each of the city's citizens - without distinction
between religion, race and gender.

Claims of Budgetary Discrimination
The data appearing in the report are incorrect and were presented
erroneously.

The municipal budget, both the regular and the irregular, is not distributed
according to geographic areas but on a basis of departmental areas of
activity.
The majority of the budgets are designated for the entire city and
distributed by the departments according to the work programs and priorities
for execution: such as scarifying and stratification of roads, renovations
in educational institutions, play facilities, purchase of trucks for garbage
disposal, construction of educational institutions and more.

Education in Eastern Jerusalem
Since Mayor Barkat took office, a huge effort has been made to reduce the
disparities due to his dissatisfaction with the status quo. The Mayor is
also promoting the matter with the Government and the Knesset.

In the educational system in eastern Jerusalem about 40,000 students of
pre-school age and up to Year 12 are studying in the official-municipal
system. This system is in a continual process of significant growth of its
student population.

The Jerusalem Municipality together with the Ministry of Education are
making many efforts to provide appropriate housing solutions for absorbing
the students and the educational and physical development of this system.

The shortage of classrooms in the east of the city is derived mainly from
lack of designated land in the Urban Building Plans for building educational
institutions. Under these special circumstances the educational
administration provides various housing solutions by arranging mobile
structures, leasing buildings and adapting them to educational institutions
and building new educational institutions.

It is important to emphasize that during the past two years a number of new
schools were built with about 200 new classrooms detailed below:

In 2007/2008 in the Zur Bahar neighbourhood 2 schools were built -
elementary and comprehensive for boys + pre-schools - a total of 90
classrooms and annexes.

In 2008/2009 two schools were building in the Oh Lisson neighbourhood -
mixed elementary and junior high for boys - a total of 48 classrooms and
annexes.

In addition, the Municipality leased a building that was adapted for
educational needs beyond the Jerusalem Envelope and includes 20 classrooms
and annexes.

In 2009 the Jerusalem Municipality opened the new building in Ras Elamoud -
a junior high school for boys including 18 classrooms and annexes.

Currently 2 schools are under construction - a comprehensive for boys + and
a comprehensive for girls in Ras Elamoud including 55 classrooms and 31
annexes.
In addition, there are plans for additional construction of wings in two
schools - the special education high school in Shoafat and Bachriya and a
new building in Oum Toba which is in the advanced planning stages.

Furthermore, currently the Jerusalem Municipality is beginning renovation
works and adaptation of a building in the north of the city which will be
used for special education students (18 classrooms).

It should be noted that programs have been approved for construction of five
new educational institutions in the north Jerusalem neighbourhoods, in the
areas of Beit Hanina/Shoafat.

Furthermore, the Municipality is acting to determine land allocation for
building schools within the framework of the unification and division plans
by expropriation of lands appropriate for additional educational
institutions, according to the needs of the population.

Registration of students is being carried out according to regulations and
guidelines of the Ministry of Education and in time registration will be
arranged via the internet.

Regarding the Boys Elementary School C in the refugee camp Shoafat,
acceptable learning conditions have been arranged which meet the
requirements and standards of the Department for Quality of the Environment.

Neglect of Services
The claims in this matter are incorrect.
Since the Mayor has taken office there has been an improvement in the
sanitation systems in eastern Jerusalem.

120 garbage retention bins of 1100 liter volume and 35 containers of 8 cubic
meter volume have been positioned.

In addition a widespread clean-up campaign was carried out in the Al Bustan
neighbourhood and currently there is a clean-up campaign in Jabal Muchbar
which includes construction of flat areas for the garbage containers and
replacement of 20 garbage bins and 15 containers.

Furthermore the Municipality is acting to increase the cleaning systems in
the neighbourhoods in the east of the city. Another garbage collection truck
has been added, another garbage collection day has been added in Iswaya, and
presently garbage collection is carried out 4 times a week.

In the center of eastern Jerusalem garbage collection and street cleaning
takes place 7 days a week, twice a day.

In addition, 35 special garbage containers of 1100 liter volume were
positioned in Kfar Akev several months ago.

In the Kfar Akev neighbourhoods, the Shalom neighbourhood, Ras Shahada and
Ras Hamis there is a sanitation contractor who removes the garbage on an
ongoing basis.

Neglect of Infrastructures
The Mayor is acting to promote the matter of breaches in the roads in
eastern Jerusalem and there have even been a number of meetings with the aim
of promoting the issue.
The Jerusalem Municipality promoted via the Ministry of Transport and the
community managers in the east of the city a multi-annual development plan
of a scope of NIS 250 million. The plan has been approved however at this
stage the Ministry of Transport (which is the principal financing entity)
has still not received a designated budget for it.

At present, the Ministry of Transport transferred budget for construction of
the Ma'ale Silwan road (under construction at present) and implementation of
security arrangements in a number of locations in eastern Jerusalem.

###

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