May 14, 1948
When was the State of Israel established?
When was the State of Israel established?
What was the status of Jerusalem before Israel was established?
Jerusalem was in Palestine, which was part of the Ottoman Empire from 1517 to 1917. The British occupied Jerusalem in December 1917 and the country was under British military occupation (Occupied Enemy Territories Administration, or OETA), from that point until July 1, 1920, when a civil administration was established. Britain was granted a Mandate for Palestine on April 25, 1920 at the San Remo Conference, and, on July 24, 1922, this Mandate was approved by the League of Nations. The British remained in Palestine for 30 years. After the UN General Assembly adopted the resolution to partition Palestine on November 29, 1947, including its plan to designate Jerusalem as an international corpus separatum, Britain announced the termination of its Mandate for Palestine, which became effective on May 15, 1948.
What legal status did Palestinian Jerusalemites have before Israel was established?
They were nationals and citizens of the independent nation of Palestine, as determined by both international and British Mandate law.
Before Israel was established, the UN proposed a partition plan, with Palestine being divided between a Jewish and an Arab state. In which of those two states was Jerusalem supposed to fall?
Neither. According to the UN partition plan for Palestine, announced November 29, 1947, within United Nations Resolution 181(II), Jerusalem was to be internationalized into a zone called a corpus separatum, Latin for “body, separated.” The term is a legal term for an area that has a special legal and political status different from that of its environment, and less than sovereignty or independence. This status was recommended due to the unique importance of the city to the three monotheistic religions and its historic importance. The area envisioned for this corpus separatum was quite a bit larger than the boundaries of the city at that time and even included areas of Bethlehem to the south as well as various outlying Palestinian villages to the west, north, and east. The plan specified that the “maximum local autonomy” should be granted to all “distinctive groups” living in this special zone.
How did West Jerusalem become part of the State of Israel?
Despite the international plan for a corpus separatum for Jerusalem, during the war of 1948, after months of intensive fighting, Israel militarily seized much of the western side of the city and all its surrounding Palestinian villages in the western corridor leading to the city from the coastal plain. Having occupied the area, on August 2, 1948, Israel then unilaterally declared West Jerusalem to be Israeli-occupied territory. At the end of the war, a temporary Armistice Demarcation Line was drawn, with West Jerusalem occupied by Israel and East Jerusalem occupied by Jordan. On December 5, 1949, Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion declared that “Jewish Jerusalem” was an organic, inseparable part of the State of Israel. He also declared the corpus separatum null and void. The UN, however, did not accede in such declaration.
In 1948, how much of the area of the city of Jerusalem was conquered and annexed by Israel to its new state, becoming West Jerusalem?
84.12 percent, or 16,221 dunums
In 1948, how much of the area of the city of Jerusalem remained under Jordanian rule, becoming East Jerusalem?
11.48 percent, or 2,220 dunums
How many Palestinian villages and towns surrounding Jerusalem (especially to its west) were depopulated by Zionist forces during the 1948 War?
During and after the 1948 War, how many Palestinians of Jerusalem were forcibly expelled or chose to flee temporarily to safety?
From the city, the estimated number is 45,000 through the end of the war; from the 40 nearby villages, the estimated number is 28,256 for a total of 73,256 (or nearly 75,000) people.
Once the 1948 War ended, did Israel generally allow the return of the tens of thousands of Palestinian Jerusalemites and villagers who were forced or chose to leave?
No. Israel moved swiftly even while the war was still raging to settle Jews in their place and pass laws to ban their return. Many of these Palestinians from the western side of the city remain in the Eastern side today but cannot reclaim any of their land or property.
What legal status did Israel confer on Palestinian Jerusalemites remaining in the parts of the city that became Israel (i.e., West Jerusalem) after Israel was established?
All except around 200 Palestinian Jerusalemites were expelled or fled and were banned from returning. Israel passed laws abrogating their citizenship, and those without status elsewhere became stateless refugees. The 200 who remained in West Jerusalem were forcibly confined in a prison zone called Area A for two and a half years. When they were finally released, they found their homes had been seized and given to Jews. These few people were eventually issued Israeli IDs, granting them legal status.
For how long was Jerusalem a physically and governmentally divided city?
For 19 years, from 1948 to June 1967
When did Israel occupy East Jerusalem?
June 5, 1967
Under international law, is East Jerusalem part of Israel?
Despite Israel’s efforts to reinvent Jerusalem as an entity that is severed from the West Bank, under international law, East Jerusalem is part of the West Bank and was historically its heart.
Have the borders of the city remained the same?
No, Israel unilaterally expanded the borders on June 27, 1967, and added about 70 sq km to the area of the city on its eastern side.
Since Israel occupied East Jerusalem in 1967, by how many times has it unilaterally expanded the municipal area?
When and how did Israel de jure annex East Jerusalem, which it militarily occupied in 1967?
How many times have the Palestinians in Jerusalem, nearly half of the city, had any say in their city’s municipal boundaries?
Zero. Although the municipal boundaries have changed 10 times since 1917, these decisions have all been unilaterally imposed by either the British or Israel without any input from Palestinians.
What law applies in East Jerusalem?
Israel unilaterally applied its law and jurisdiction to the eastern side of the city within its newly expanded borders on June 28, 1967. While Israel considers this to be legal, international law does not and still considers East Jerusalem to be occupied territory.
Under international law, is Israeli’s imposition of its own law and administration over East Jerusalem, an area it occupied in 1967, legal?
No. The unilateral imposition of Israeli law on East Jerusalem in 1967 is invalid and illegal under international law. This has been affirmed in numerous UN resolutions.
When Israeli officials refer to the “demographic balance” in Jerusalem, what do they mean?
The “demographic balance” means preserving the demographic superiority of Jews in Jerusalem.
According to Israeli policy as laid down in 1973 by the Gafni Committee, what is the “allowed” percentage of Palestinians in the city of Jerusalem?
26.5 percent. This goal, set in 1973, proved impossible to achieve. Today, the percentage is officially reported as around 40 percent but likely closer to 50 percent.
How many people live in Jerusalem today?
The most recent official Israeli data are for 2020: 951,100.
Of those, how many are Jews?
In 2020, 570,100, or 59.9 percent of the city’s population. Israeli data statisticians also inflate this number by combining it with the number of “non-Arab Christians” (3,400) and “persons not identified by religion” (10,800), thus referring to a Jewish population of 61.4. See Omer Yaniv, Netta Haddad, and Yair Assaf-Shapira, Jerusalem Facts and Trends 2022 (Jerusalem: Jerusalem Institute for Policy Research, 2022), footnote 2, 20.
How many are Palestinians?
In 2020, 366,800, or 36.56 percent of the city’s total population (951,100). This figure does not distinguish between citizens and permanent residents, or between citizens who were born in 1948 Israel and those who were born residents in East Jerusalem and applied for citizenship by naturalization. In addition, there are 3,400 “non-Arab Christians” and 10,800 “persons not identified by religion.” If these numbers are combined with the number of Arabs, the percentage of “non-Jews” in the city rises to 40.06. Note, however, that these data only include persons in the Israeli Population Registry; thousands more Palestinians are either unregistered or living with Palestinian Authority IDs in the city and therefore not tabulated. See Omer Yaniv, Netta Haddad, and Yair Assaf-Shapira, Jerusalem Facts and Trends 2022 (Jerusalem: Jerusalem Institute for Policy Research, 2022), 20.
Is the number of Palestinians in the city cited by Israeli official data accurate?
No, because it only includes people who are registered in the Israeli Population Registry (i.e., those who have legal status). It does not include unregistered persons or persons holding Palestinian Authority IDs who live within the city limits for various reasons. This number is believed to approach the tens of thousands, meaning that the actual percentage of Palestinians and other non-Jews in the city is likely closer to 50 percent.
What is the status of Jews who live in Jerusalem?
Jews in Jerusalem, as in the rest of Israel, are either citizens, immigrants on a fast path to becoming citizens (within 30 days) by making aliya, or tourists. Jews receive citizenship by birthright.
What is the status of the Palestinians who live in Jerusalem?
Although this community is indigenous, Israel conferred upon it the status of permanent resident, a status usually granted to foreigners arriving from outside the country, in June 1967. At that time, Israel conducted a census and anyone who was enumerated in the census was entitled to apply for the status of permanent resident.
Is the legal status granted to Palestinians in Jerusalem conferred automatically (i.e., by birthright) or conditionally?
The status of permanent resident is conferred only conditionally, which means that it is granted at the whim of the authorities, conditional upon whatever types of criteria the authorities choose to set. As will be explained below, in this case, these criteria have changed over the years through legal developments often introduced through specific cases. Commonly the criteria change without any warning or notice to residents and even apply retroactively to past actions and circumstances.
Does the status of permanent resident transfer automatically from a Palestinian Jerusalemite to his or her spouse who does not have this status?
No. Permanent-resident status is non-transferable. The spouse with status must apply for it on behalf of the spouse without status through a lengthy and stringent process called family unification. However, under Israeli law, all family unification applications for Palestinian spouses have been frozen since 2003.
Does the status of permanent resident transfer automatically from parent to child?
No. Under Israeli law, all newborn children must be listed on a parent’s ID within 30 days. Only upon turning 16 is a child allowed to apply for his own individual legal status and ID, and there is no guaranteed outcome. Stringent requirements must be met.
Can this status be revoked? And if so, for what reasons?
Yes. Permanent-resident status can be revoked for several reasons, including failure to prove that one’s “center of life” is within the municipal boundaries of Jerusalem, alleged “disloyalty” to the state, and if a family member commits a security offense.
What is the “center of life” policy and what does it mean for Palestinian Jerusalemites?
A: The “center of life” policy, which emerged from the Supreme Court ruling in the 1988 Mubarak Awad case, is a judicially created doctrine subject to the discretion of the minister of interior. According to this policy, in order to maintain their residency, Palestinian Jerusalemites must consistently prove to the Ministry of Interior that their “center of life” is in Israel. Practically speaking, since Palestinian Jerusalemites rarely live outside the city, this means proving that their “center of life” lies in Jerusalem (i.e., within the Israeli-declared municipal boundaries). Those who cannot prove so are at risk of having their status revoked or their residency not renewed upon expiration.
Has Israel actually revoked the status of any Palestinian resident in the past?
Yes. It has revoked the status of nearly 15,000 residents since 1967 and it continues to do so to this day.
When an individual’s residency status is revoked, is the status of minor children affected?
If the individual has children registered on his or her ID, they all lose their status as well, and with it, their health and national insurance benefits and access to their education, among other things.
If minor children are also vulnerable to revocation of status through a parent’s loss of status, how many individuals have actually been affected by this policy since 1967?
While exact numbers are unknown, estimates put this at nearly 77,000 to 90,000.
When residency status is revoked, what are the consequences?
Are Jewish citizens living in Jerusalem required to prove that Jerusalem is the “center of their life” to maintain their legal status?
Do Palestinian permanent residents of Israel enjoy the basic rights protected by Israeli Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty?
No. Palestinian residents do not enjoy any of these basic rights: Preservation of life, body, and dignity; Protection of property; Protection of life, body, and dignity, Personal liberty, Leaving and entering Israel; Privacy.
How many Palestinians in Jerusalem hold Israeli citizenship?
20,000—about 6 to 7 percent. But there are no precise data on how many of these are born citizens of Israel and how many are permanent residents of Jerusalem who applied for and received naturalized citizenship.
Can the Palestinian Authority operate within the Israeli-declared boundaries of East Jerusalem? West Jerusalem?
Under the Oslo Accords of 1993 and 1995, the Palestinian Authority (PA) is banned from operating anywhere within the Israeli-declared municipal boundaries of Jerusalem. Israel takes this ban extremely seriously and considers it a criminal offense if the PA sponsors any type of activity in the city, even a coronavirus clinic or a soccer game. This is in accordance with the Law Implementing Agreement on Gaza and Jericho Areas (1994), which took effect on January 1, 1995 and states explicitly:
Restriction on the Palestinian Authority
The likewise bans the Palestine Liberation Organization from operating within the Israeli municipal boundaries of Jerusalem and authorizes the Minister of Policy to take similar measures to prevent any such activity as those for the PA.
Can Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza access Jerusalem freely?
No. Palestinians holding PA ID cards (males aged under 55, females aged under 50) cannot enter Jerusalem without an Israeli-approved entry permit.
Any Palestinian who has been blacklisted by Israel for any reason cannot obtain such a permit and therefore cannot enter Jerusalem.
Does Israel’s Separation Wall breach the Jerusalem municipal boundaries? In other words, do parts of it fall inside the city?
Yes. In fact 97 percent of the route of the wall in the Jerusalem area and its close environs breaches the Green Line. In some places the wall moves inside of the municipal boundary; in other places it extends beyond (outside) it.
Does the Separation Wall track closely along the route of the Green Line?
No. The Separation Wall is more than twice as long as the Green Line, and 85 percent of it crosses into the occupied West Bank, thereby appropriating 9.4 percent of Palestinian lands there.
Of the 140 km of the Separation Wall that encircle and snake through Jerusalem and its nearby area, how many overlap with the Israeli-declared municipal boundaries of the city?
0; the Separation Wall runs wholly apart from the Israeli municipal boundary for the most part. In some very small portions in Abu Dis, it runs close to the boundary for about 1.5 km, but otherwise there is no overlap. This reflects the reality that the Separation Wall established a wholly new definition of the city from that which previously had been unilaterally imposed by Israel in 1967, when it occupied East Jerusalem and expanded the boundaries.
Is it correct to say that the Separation Wall was designed to separate the West Bank from Jerusalem, and so it cleanly runs between the boundaries of the West Bank, on the one hand, and Jerusalem, on the other?
No, this is incorrect for several reasons. First, East Jerusalem is historically part of the occupied West Bank, so it cannot really be separated from it. Second, the route of the Separation Wall does not run cleanly along the Israeli municipal boundaries or any official boundaries. Third, the Separation Wall excises whole large Palestinian neighborhoods from the city, although they fall inside of the municipal boundaries. Additionally, the Separation Wall removes at least 150,000 Palestinian Jerusalemites from the city, because they live on the “other” side of the wall.
Has the Separation Wall blocked any Palestinian community from accessing its own city?
Yes, and in more than one way. Some Palestinian communities have been left outside the wall; their only way to access the city is through a single checkpoint. Some have been entirely engulfed by the wall, surrounded on all sides, or by the wall and then mountainous terrain (effectively engulfed). Some Palestinian communities that were historically part of the city and its environs have been left outside of both the municipal boundaries and the wall. In general, the wall winds within and without the jurisdiction of the Jerusalem municipality, slicing through Palestinian communities and separating them. In its wake, it creates multiple types of entrapped zones where Palestinians reside.
How many Palestinians living within the municipal boundaries of Jerusalem are estimated to have been separated from the city by the Separation Wall since it was completed over a decade ago?
Around 150,000, although no reliable data exist
Can Palestinian permanent residents of Jerusalem vote for the (Israeli) Jerusalem municipal council?
Yes, Palestinian permanent residents can vote for the local municipal council. However, they cannot run for mayor and they cannot vote in national elections.
How many Palestinian permanent residents of Jerusalem voted in the 2018 Jerusalem municipal council elections?
About 1 percent
How many Palestinians have been elected to the Jerusalem municipal council since Israel occupied the Eastern side of the city in 1967? Since 1948?
Can Palestinian permanent residents run for the office of Jerusalem mayor?
By law, no. They can only vote for the municipal council. They also cannot vote in national elections.
How many Palestinians have been elected or appointed as mayor in the areas of Jerusalem that have fallen within the State of Israel?
None. Israel expelled all Palestinians from West Jerusalem in 1948 and did not allow them to return. For those in East Jerusalem, Israel granted them permanent-resident status, not citizenship. Under Israeli law, permanent residents are not allowed to hold the office of mayor. Therefore, in West Jerusalem since 1948 (when it was incorporated into the State of Israel) and in East Jerusalem since 1967 (when Israel occupied the eastern half of the city), there has never been a single Palestinian mayor.
Can Palestinian permanent residents be appointed as judges in the Israeli legal system?
No. Only Israeli citizens have this right.
Can Palestinian permanent residents of Jerusalem vote for or be elected to the Israeli Knesset?
No; as permanent residents, they are not allowed to do so.
Can Palestinian permanent residents of Jerusalem vote or be elected to the Palestinian Legislative Council?
In theory, yes, but in reality the state interferes with these elections to such an extent that it suppresses the vote.
Can Palestinian permanent residents of Jerusalem vote for the Palestinian president?
In theory, yes, but in reality the state interferes with these elections to such an extent that it suppresses the vote.
For Palestinians, is Jerusalem an open or a closed city?
That depends on their Israeli-issued ID. Under the mobility regime imposed by Israel, only Palestinians with Israeli citizenship and those with blue permanent-resident IDs can freely enter Jerusalem. Palestinians holding Palestinian Authority (PA) IDs must apply to the unit for Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) for a military entry permit. Entry permits are typically very restricted and specific in their duration and location. On certain days (including Jewish holidays), Israel imposes a total closure on the city which results in the cancellation of any entry permits already granted for that period. Palestinians living in Gaza are almost never granted these permits and even on the rare occasions that they are, they can be cancelled by Israel at the last minute for any reason. For Palestinians with foreign passports wishing to visit Palestinians in the West Bank, a whole new set of entry regulations was imposed in October 2022 that might even prevent them from entering altogether if they are from one of six “banned” countries (Jordan, Egypt, Bahrain, Morocco, and South Sudan). Even Palestinians with citizenship in countries allied with Israel such as the US can be harassed at the airport and deported in some cases, meaning they cannot access Jerusalem either. Palestinian refugees living outside the country without foreign passports cannot dream of entering Jerusalem.
In the Jerusalem context, what is “Closure” and when was it imposed?
Closure is an Israeli system that applies to a specific group of persons, not to any territory. The West Bank is a permanently “closed” military zone only for Palestinians who hold Palestinian Authority (PA) ID cards, meaning that they need permits to leave it and enter adjacent Jerusalem. Therefore, this population is under “closure.” Jews and Israeli citizens and residents, by contrast, have full freedom of movement, even those who live in the West Bank.
According to Israeli sociologist and human rights lawyer Yael Berda, an expert on the bureaucracy of the occupation, “Closure is a legal apparatus that is in effect only on the subjects of the military commander . . . it’s called the “enclaves law”; it doesn't exist in any other [country]. It’s a legal construction that is Israeli-made. It’s an exception to international law.”
Closure was imposed in 1991 and has been in effect continuously ever since.
In the Jerusalem context, what is a “Total Closure Day” and when is it imposed?
“Total closure days” are days on which Palestinians with Palestinian Authority (PA) ID cards are not allowed to enter Israel or East Jerusalem at all, even if they have valid Israeli entry permits. With the establishment of a detailed permit regime, especially after the Second Intifada, total closure days became more common.
The Israeli army typically announces the total closure of the West Bank and Gaza on major Jewish holidays like Passover (which usually occurs in spring) and Yom Kippur (which usually occurs in fall) or on the occasion of an Israeli national event such as Election Day or Independence Day. As well, the army might declare a total closure on the West Bank when there are high alerts of possible “attacks” (i.e., by Palestinians targeting Jews).
Total closure can last from several hours to several days.
How many checkpoints control entry into East Jerusalem?
Are all Palestinians wishing to access Jerusalem from outside the municipal boundaries allowed to use any checkpoint?
To enter Jerusalem, how many of the 13 checkpoints that control access to the city are Palestinians who hold Palestinian Authority (PA) IDs allowed to use?
Only three: One in the north (Qalandiya); one in the east (the al-Zaytun/Ras Abu Sbitan checkpoint); and one in the south (Checkpoint 300 from Bethlehem). This includes any and all workers coming in to their daily jobs. Narrowing the options to just three checkpoints creates massive delays and inconvenience for Palestinians holding PA ID cards entering Israel, particularly in the north and south. For example, Qalandiya checkpoint handles about a third of daily Palestinian movements in and out of the West Bank.
How many people are estimated to pass through Qalandiya checkpoint, which controls all Palestinian access to Jerusalem from the north, each day?
More than 25,000; in fact, Qalandiya checkpoint alone handles about a third of daily Palestinian movements in and out of the occupied West Bank.
Are Palestinians with Palestinian Authority (PA) IDs coming from the occupied West Bank or Gaza allowed to drive across any checkpoints into Jerusalem?
How many neighborhoods has the city of Jerusalem built for Palestinians in East Jerusalem since it occupied that part of the city in 1967?
Zero. Even when Palestinians organized for 15 years to build their own neighborhood on their own land, Mayor Moshe Lion vetoed the project in 2023, ostensibly for political reasons given that municipal elections were due in October of that same year.
Can Palestinians who hold Israeli permanent-resident IDs build private structures (homes, rooms, businesses, sheds) in Jerusalem at will?
No. It is almost impossible for Palestinians to get a building permit from the city, for many reasons. But the main reason is that the city does not finalize or approve any plans for Palestinian neighborhoods and it denies about 93 percent of the building permit applications from Palestinians.
What is the “Jerusalem Envelope”?
In Israeli discourse, this term refers to the 202 km segment of the Separation Wall, built variously as concrete wall and chain-link fence, that envelops Jerusalem, encapsulating the whole Israeli-envisioned “Greater Jerusalem” region from the south of Ramallah to the west of Jericho and down southwards into Bethlehem, embracing all of the major settlement blocs in the Jerusalem region and linking them to the city of Jerusalem, while dissecting Palestinian spaces and fragmenting and entrapping Jerusalemite communities within different enclaves.
Can a Palestinian family living inside the boundaries of Jerusalem with permanent residency status freely choose to send their children to any school they wish?
No. Palestinian residents must continually prove to the Ministry of the Interior that their “center of life” lies within the city, including their children’s education. Should they register their child at a school outside those boundaries, even by a few feet, the child’s residency, legal status, and national health insurance would be revoked. Schools in West Jerusalem are also off limits since they are for Jews only.
Can a Palestinian family facing chronic overcrowding in East Jerusalem schools send their children to the spacious and emptying (due to secular out-migration from the city) West Jerusalem schools?
A: No. Schools in West Jerusalem are for Jews only.
Which central authority is tasked with overseeing Palestinian education in East Jerusalem?
There is no such central authority tasked with implementing public education policy and responsible for outcomes. In fact, the supervision over education is fragmented and dysfunctional due to long-running conflicts over control of education in the city. In fact, there are four different supervising bodies, each controlling different types of schools (Israeli municipal public schools, awqaf [Islamic] schools, UNRWA schools, and private schools (including local charities). The first three types provide free education but they are differently funded and managed.
When a Palestinian permanent resident turns 16, he or she must apply for a first ID card. In what way would his or her educational records be relevant?
Does the Israeli municipality of Jerusalem recognize all Palestinian schools as official?
No. Only the Israeli-run municipal public schools are recognized as official.
Are Palestinian students allowed to carry textbooks with the Palestinian flag in them in their backpacks?
Under Israeli law, displaying the Palestinian flag is perfectly legal. However, recently, the government and the city have stepped up a campaign of searching children’s backpacks and seizing any materials, including assigned and required textbooks, that display the Palestinian flag, traumatizing children.