Objection to the Eastern Ring Road Plan for Jerusalem, Designed to Create a Segregated Road System and to Encircle Palestinian Neighborhoods in East Jerusalem, in Violation of International and Israeli Law

Jerusalem District Planning and Building Committee, Objection to Local Master Plan No. 4585/F "Eastern Ring Road – Central Section"

The plan is designed to create an apartheid road and turn the Palestinian neighborhoods in East Jerusalem into cantons, in violation of international and Israeli law

On 2 March 2008, Adalah submitted an objection to the Jerusalem District Planning and Building Committee, against Local Master Plan No. 4585/F (The Eastern Ring Road – Central Section). The objectors demanded the cancellation of the plan, which is essentially intended to create an apartheid road that, if implemented, would confiscate Palestinian private property, isolate Palestinian neighborhoods in East Jerusalem from one other, and sever East Jerusalem from the rest of the West Bank. The objection was submitted on behalf of Palestinian human rights and community organizations the Jerusalem Center for Democracy and Human Rights, the Society of St. Yves, the Parents Committee of Jabal al-Mukabbir, the Islamic Philanthropic Association of Jabal al-Mukabbir, the mayors of Abu Dis, Izzariya, Suahara, and a group of Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem. It was filed by Adalah Attorneys Fatmeh El-’Ajou and Suhad Bishara and Adalah’s Urban and Regional Planner, Hana Hamdan.

The plan is part of a broad project that encompasses East and West Jerusalem and contains two main sections, an Eastern and Western ring road. The ring road is planned on vast stretches of land (amounting to approximately 1,200 dunams), most of which would be expropriated from its private Palestinian owners. The planned route runs alongside the following Palestinian neighborhoods, to the west of the route: Sala, Jabis, Bashir, Sakriyat, Al-Qunbar, Hai al-Madaris, Umm Lison and Zur Bahar; and to the east the following Palestinian towns and neighborhoods: Abu Dis, Surhai, Sawahri Sharqiya and Sheikh Sa’ad. The Eastern Ring Road is the only remaining part of the project yet to be completed.

The objectors argue that the Eastern Ring Road violates the rights of Palestinian landowners, is politically motivated, and violates international law, which applies to Israel as an occupying power in East Jerusalem. International humanitarian law obliges Israel to provide for the essential needs of the civilian population of East Jerusalem and to refrain from making fundamental changes in the occupied territory or from expropriating land for political purposes. Article 147 of the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 explicitly states that the extensive expropriation of property from the protected population is a flagrant violation of the convention.

The objectors based their objection, inter alia, on the advisory opinion issued by the International Court of Justice on 9 July 2004 pertaining to the Separation Wall being constructed by Israel, in which the court addressed the status of East Jerusalem in international law. The court stated unequivocally that its status, like that of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, is that of occupied territory; that is, an area in which the Israeli Army exercises control in practice and in effect.

The objectors further argued that an analysis of the route of the Eastern Ring Road indicates that it would serve in practice as a road for exclusive use by Israelis and that it is designed in such a way that it would be very difficult for the Palestinian population of Jerusalem to use it; thus it is an `apartheid road’. The road further aims to consolidate and develop the Jewish settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, and link them directly and conveniently to each other and to West Jerusalem.

The road is simultaneously intended to isolate the Arab neighborhoods in East Jerusalem from the main route of the Eastern Ring Road, from each other and from the West Bank. It would thereby turn these neighborhoods into islands that are isolated – geographically, economically and in terms of transportation – from their immediate surroundings and would end Palestinian geographical contiguity within and around East Jerusalem, thereby precluding any future economic and social development or expansion of these neighborhoods. The plan stands to cut the owners of agricultural land off from their lands, to dramatically reduce the accessibility of schools, health services and workplaces for residents of these neighborhoods, and severely disrupt their family and social lives.

The objection (Hebrew)