Palestine’s religious affairs ministry in Gaza warned the Israeli government’s announcement to relaunch the Jerusalem 2020 project, which would reduce the city’s Palestinian population to 20 per cent, could spark a “painful” ideological war in the holy city.
The ministry’s Jerusalem committee said in a statement it issued Monday that the plan would mean obliterating Islamic holy sites and landmarks around the Aqsa Mosque in hopes of taking control of the mosque, destroying it and building the alleged temple on its ruins.
The committee added that the Israeli government seeks to transfer the largest possible number of Jews to the holy city and adjoin communities to achieve this goal and transform it from a “fundamentalist Jewish city into a city of life”.
The ministry underlined that the construction of thousands of apartments and a train system between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem and a railway linking the city’s Gush Etzion settlement community places the city as a national priority.
Jerusalem’s Arab population reached 300,000, but with the separation wall isolating 120,000 residents, and 14,000 family’s who were denied citizenship as a result of identity card revocation, and Resolution 1650 that deprived thousands of family reunification, the number of Arab residents plummeted to 175,000, while the number of Jews in east Jerusalem rose to 200,000.
In a separate development, an official report issued by the Israeli insurance foundation noted a significant increase in the poverty level in 2009 in 1948-occupied Palestinian territories.
The report issued Monday said the majority of family’s under the poverty level since the beginning of last year are Arabs living in territories occupied by Israel in 1948.
The foundation said the poverty level rose by six per cent, with 15,000 Palestinian and Jewish families falling below the poverty line, most of them Palestinians and Jewish extremists.