Arab Jerusalemites have increasingly been applying for Israeli citizenship, and ever-growing numbers of youngsters are choosing to pursue the Israeli high-school curriculum (which qualifies them to apply to Israeli universities) and to enroll in after-school Hebrew classes. David M. Weinberg takes these trends, along with other data, to mean that the city’s Arab residents are coming to realize that “they will always be better off under Israeli administration” than under the Palestinian Authority:
Arab Jerusalemites—despite their Palestinian national identity—have come around to a pragmatic attitude toward Israeli authorities. . . . And there is a demonstrable linkage between Israeli investment in the welfare of eastern-Jerusalem Arabs and a reduction in terrorism. The neighborhoods that have most benefited from government and municipal budgets have become much quieter—with less crime and much less nationalistic violence. . . . [Thus] Israel can no longer ignore its responsibilities to develop the eastern half of the city.
However, the challenge remains enormous, particularly with regard to education. There are more than 105,000 children in eastern-Jerusalem schools. The system is short 1,500 classrooms. . . . The city is building seven to ten new schools each year, but it is not nearly enough, and there is an acute shortage of qualified school principals. . . .
Overcrowding, rampant illegal home construction, and (consequently) grossly overburdened water and sewage infrastructures are the norm in many eastern-Jerusalem neighborhoods, with the worst example being Silwan in the heart of the city. Last year the municipality approved a master plan for new home building in Sur Baher and Umm Tuba in the southern part of the city; but again, much more is needed.
The situation is complicated by the [political] struggles within the Arab community of Jerusalem. Many local Arab activists seek partnership with Israel in order to advance their communities, . . . and some are even considering running this fall for election to the Jerusalem municipal council on local Arab slates—for the first time. But Fatah leaders and the Palestinian Authority seek to dissuade them from working with the municipality and are threatening the families of moderate Jerusalemite Arabs with ostracism and even death.
Sign Up For Our E-Mail List Get the latest from Mosaic right in your inbox
Sign up now for unlimited access