Once Upon a Time...





Fundamental Issues


For centuries, Jerusalem has been the political, administrative and spiritual heart of Palestine. Metropolitan East Jerusalem – an area extending from Ramallah to Bethlehem – has for long been the driving force of our economy. In fact, nearly one-third of our economic activity is centered around East Jerusalem. Given East Jerusalem’s economic, cultural, social and religious importance, without East Jerusalem, there can be no viable Palestinian state.

Though central to three faiths, Israel has since 1967 systematically pursued policies aimed at ensuring exclusive control over the city with disregard to the rights of the indigenous Christian and Muslim Palestinian populations. In so doing, Israel unilaterally is taking control of East Jerusalem, the future capital of our state, thereby putting at risk the possibility of a two-state solution.

Key Facts

  • Approximately 35 percent of our economy is dependent upon Metropolitan East Jerusalem, which extends from Ramallah to Bethlehem.
  • The international community, including the UN, the US and the EU do not recognize Israel’s claim of sovereignty over East Jerusalem.
  • Due to discriminatory Israeli restrictions on land use, Palestinians in East Jerusalem live and build on only 13 percent of our land. Those who, lacking any other alternatives, build either without permits or while the application is pending are subject to forced evictions and home demolitions. The Israeli military has destroyed over 3,000 of our homes in occupied East Jerusalem since 1967.
  • Palestinian Jerusalemites, who constitute over 36 percent of the population of Jerusalem, receive less than 10 percent of Jerusalem’s municipal budget.
  • Approximately 78% of Palestinian Jerusalemites live in poverty and at least 160,000 Palestinians living in the City have no suitable or legal connection to water networks.

International Law

  • UN Security Council Resolution 242 (1967) emphasizes “the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war” and calls for the “[w]ithdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict.”
  • UN Security Council Resolution 252 (1968) states that the Security Council “[c]onsiders that all…actions taken by Israel…which tend to change the legal status of Jerusalem are invalid and cannot change that status.”
  • UN Security Council Resolution 476 (1980) states that the Security Council “[r]econfirms that all…actions taken by Israel, the occupying Power, which purport to alter the character and status of…Jerusalem have no legal validity…and also constitute a serious obstruction to achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East.”

Our Position

In conformity with international law and as stated in the Declaration of Principles, all of Jerusalem (and not only East Jerusalem) is subject to permanent status negotiations. With respect to East Jerusalem, because it remains part of the territory occupied since 1967, Israel has no right to any part of it.

As the political, economic and spiritual heart of our nation, there can be no Palestinian state without East Jerusalem, in particular the Old City and the surrounding area, as its capital. We are committed to respecting freedom of worship at, and access to, religious sites within East Jerusalem for everyone. All possible measures will be taken to protect such sites and preserve their dignity.

Beyond ensuring our sovereignty over East Jerusalem, we will consider a number of solutions, as long as they are in our interest and in line with international law. For example, Jerusalem may be an open city for both Palestinians and Israelis-the capital of two nations. Whatever the specific solution, East Jerusalem is essential to the economic, political and cultural viability of our future state. There can be no integrated Palestinian national economy and, thus no sustainable resolution of the conflict, without a negotiated solution on Jerusalem that guarantees our rights.


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