How to Make Jerusalem a Better Place for Jews and Arabs Alike, While Combating Malign Outside Influence

June 11, 2019 | David M. Weinberg

In his final report before leaving office, Israel’s outgoing comptroller Yosef Shapira focused on the poor state of the capital city: garbage can be found on streets and sidewalks, historical sites are not being properly preserved, and some social services are inadequate. David M. Weinberg urges the national government to assist Jerusalem in making the improvements suggested by Shapira, and points to some additional, and perhaps graver, problems:

The city needs a minimum of 6,000 new apartments a year just to keep up with natural growth. . . . Urban renewal and downtown high-rise projects constitute a drop in the bucket. Unfortunately, there has been near-zero construction in Jerusalem over the past decade, throughout the Barack Obama years and even since Donald Trump became the U.S. president. American pressures are a key factor because almost all available land for Jerusalem housing is over the stale Green Line, [which marks the de-facto border prior to the Six-Day War]. . . .

Israel’s second major challenge is countering the subversion of Israeli sovereignty in eastern Jerusalem by radical Islamic groups, foreign actors like Turkey, and the Palestinian Authority. . . . None of these has any interest in improving the lives of Jerusalemite Arabs, but rather seeks to undermine Israeli administration of the city. And some of the bad actors pump messaging supportive of terrorism against Israel and Jews. Overall, they discourage Jerusalemite Arabs from behaving as residents of the city with equal rights and duties and aim to prevent their healthy interaction with the Israeli government and its institutions, and with Israeli society in general.

Israel must push back hard. Mainly, this means real and good governance; and more intensive civilian investment in the eastern part of the city. Foreign intruders are most active in civilian fields and geographic areas where Israeli administration and services are inadequate.

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