Why is it important to improve living conditions in East Jerusalem?
Around two-thirds of Palestinian residents in East Jerusalem (approximately 170,000 people) live under the Israeli poverty line and reside in fragmented city neighborhoods. There is an acute shortage of appropriate housing and a deepening crisis in the education sector. There are not enough classrooms for Palestinian children and due to over-crowdedness and low quality, school drop-out rates in East Jerusalem are extremely high. The separation of East Jerusalem from its natural business environs in the West Bank has also negatively impacted economic activity in the city.
Improving living conditions for the Palestinian residents is important for three reasons: (i) it is an appropriate course of action from a humanitarian and development perspective; (ii) it is important to the Palestinian economy as a whole (East Jerusalem represents the largest urban population of Palestinians) and (iii) it underpins the two-state concept supported by both Israelis and Palestinians.
How does the OQR work to improve living conditions in East Jerusalem?
The OQR works to improve living conditions in East Jerusalem by:
- Helping to mobilize funds for NGOs working on zoning and re-planning of existing Palestinian neighborhoods with a high density of ‘unlicensed’ construction;
- Facilitating the implementation of new housing projects for Palestinians in areas zoned for residential construction in East Jerusalem;
- Supporting the implementation of school expansion and improvement projects in East Jerusalem, in close coordination with local communities;
- Promoting better access for hospital staff and patients from the West Bank to reach the hospitals in East Jerusalem;
- Supporting business development in tourism, real estate, services and ICT, as well as the implementation of large iconic economic projects in East Jerusalem.
OQR achievements in improving living conditions in East Jerusalem
- License for establishment of new commercial complex – OQR helped with the implementation of a large multi-million dollar project to establish a new commercial complex in East Jerusalem. The Addar Complex was officially opened in early 2012.
- East Jerusalem Business Forum – OQR helped to organize the first-ever investor conference in East Jerusalem since 1967. The East Jerusalem Business Forum took place in late 2012, with 350 participants from around the region. We are actively involved in follow-up activities, including a possible second forum in the autumn of 2014.
- Housing - helped mobilize support for new mortgage finance initiatives and planning projects in the housing sector.
- Ramadan Festival 2013 – helped mobilize support for a festival that involved the closing of Salah Edin Street during Friday and Saturday nights of Ramadan 2013, with shops open late, street performances and other activities