Background on East Jerusalem

Published: 
1 Jan 2011
Updated: 
8 Jul 2012

Since East Jerusalem was annexed in 1967, the government of Israel's primary goal in Jerusalem has been to create a demographic and geographic situation that will thwart any future attempt to challenge Israeli sovereignty over the city. To achieve this goal, the government has been taking actions to increase the number of Jews, and reduce the number of Palestinians, living in the city.

In 2010, the population of Jerusalem stood at 788,052: 504,179 Jews and others (63.9 percent) and 283,873 Palestinians (36 percent). About 59.6% percent of the residents live on land that was annexed in 1967 (39.3 percent of whom are Jews, and 60.7 percent Palestinians). With the Palestinians having a higher growth rate than the Jews, Israel has used various methods to achieve its goal:

  • Physically isolating East Jerusalem from the rest of the West Bank, in part by building the separation barrier;
  • Discriminating in land expropriation, planning, and building, and demolition of houses;
  • Revoking residency and social benefits of Palestinians who stay abroad for at least seven years, or who are unable to prove that their center of life is in Jerusalem;
  • Unfairly dividing the budget between the two parts of the city, with harmful effects on infrastructure and services in East Jerusalem.

Israel's policy gravely infringes the rights of residents of East Jerusalem and flagrantly breaches international law.

East Jerusalem is occupied territory. Therefore, it is subject, as is the rest of the West Bank, to the provisions of international humanitarian law that relate to occupied territory. The annexation of East Jerusalem breaches international law, which prohibits unilateral annexation. For this reason, the international community, including the United States, does not recognize the annexation of East Jerusalem.