Destructive Unilateral Measures to Redraw the Borders of Jerusalem

In 2017, two bills were introduced from the benches of the coalition – the Basic Law: Jerusalem, Capital of Israel (Amendment No. 2) Bill and the Greater Jerusalem Bill – both designed to substantively change the borders of Jerusalem. Introduced during the 50th anniversary year of the annexation of East Jerusalem, their shared objective was the de facto annexation of the settlement blocs surrounding Jerusalem and the displacement of approximately one third of the Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem living in the eight neighborhoods already effectively detached from the city by the Separation Barrier. These proposals were not raised in a vacuum; they are part of a continuum of initiatives advanced in recent years, all of which aim to unilaterally force determinative territorial-political facts on Jerusalem in the guise of “municipal measures.” Designed over the heads of both the Israeli and Palestinian residents of the city, they will decisively undermine chances for a political resolution on the city, rupture the urban fabric, and escalate the conflict in Jerusalem.
This paper describes and analyzes the plans and bills – one of which has now been passed into legislation – and their implications for the character of Jerusalem, its residents, and the political future of the city. It proposes recommendations for an alternative framework, with the goal of strengthening the fabric of life for both the Israeli and more