From: Jerusalem Affairs [mailto:jerusalemaffairs@pmo.gov.ps]
Sent: 26 October 2005 09:28
Subject: Education in Jerusalem

 

Palestine Liberation Organization

Palestinian National Authority

 

Office of Minister of State for Jerusalem Affairs

 

Dear Sir/ Madam,


The Ministry of State for Jerusalem Affairs is embarking on a public outreach campaign regarding the dire constraints placed on Palestinian students and teachers’ accessibility to schools and universities due to the adverse impacts of
Israel’s Wall in Occupied East Jerusalem. Such measures are an indication of Israel’s intention to annex Occupied East Jerusalem, tearing the socio-economic fabric that sustains Palestinian livelihoods and, effectively jeopardizing the viability of a two state solution. A brief report regarding the aforementioned has been attached for your information and action regarding the severe conditions confronting the education sector.

 

Israel's policies violate: (i) Israel's own Compulsory Education Law, (ii) Article 50 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, (iii) the Convention Against Discrimination in Education, (iv) the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, (v) the Convention on the Rights of the Child and, (vi) the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

 

These illegal and untenable Israeli injustices must not be permitted to continue. Amidst the threat to the education of Palestinian children and the isolation of Occupied East Jerusalem from its Palestinian hinterland, we are calling on all of you join us and assume responsibility in our public outreach campaign. We call on you to demand that your representatives, activists and civil society groups take action in implementing international law. Protecting the rights of Palestinian pupils and teachers to teach and learn according to universal standards of education will safeguard the rights of all our children as part of our human and global community.

 

Respectfully,

Minister Hind Khoury

Palestinian Authority Minister of State for Jerusalem Affairs

*******

Ministry of State for Jerusalem Affairs

 

Tearing the Social Fabric of East Jerusalem:

Israel’s Wall and Palestinian Education

______________________________________________

 

“We either abandon Jerusalem or my children abandon their schools and

friends in Ramallah. That’s the choice we have.”

- Jerusalemite residing in Ramallah

 

              While criticism of Israel’s Wall in Occupied East Jerusalem has largely focused on the immediate effects of land confiscations, home demolitions and the isolation of Jerusalem from the rest of Occupied Palestinian Territory, the most devastating impact of the Wall’s construction is the tearing of East Jerusalem’s social fabric. Acting as a political border to consolidate Israel’s stranglehold over Jerusalem’s occupied sector, the Wall will sever the familial, commercial, religious, medical and educational links which allow East Jerusalem and its environs to function as an integrated and cohesive social and economic unit. This report addresses the Wall’s impact on East Jerusalem’s education sector and its contribution to the forced upheaval in the lives of an estimated million Palestinians in the area. 

 

 

I.         Background on East Jerusalem Educational Systems

 

              A.          Israeli Government Schools

 

There are currently 48 government schools[1] in Occupied East Jerusalem operating under the responsibility of the Jerusalem Municipality teaching a separate "Arab Educational System".  During the 2002-2003 academic year, approximately 39,000 Palestinian students (approximately 61% of an estimated Palestinian student population of 64,000) attended these government schools. There is a severe shortage of Israeli government schools serving the Palestinian population.   In 2001, an Israeli attorney sued the Municipality and the Israeli Ministry of Education on behalf of 915 Palestinian children denied access to the government school system. The Israeli High Court of Justice, recognizing the futility of ordering students into classrooms that simply did not exist, ordered the Municipality to build 245 classrooms within four years. By August 2005, only 13 new classrooms had been built, despite municipal budgeting for 47 new classrooms[2] (still well below the 245 classrooms that had been legally mandated).  A new legal challenge is being prepared, charging the Jerusalem Municipality and the Israeli Ministry of Education with contempt of court. [3]

 

Israeli authorities blame East Jerusalemites for the lack of schools and classrooms, arguing that the Palestinians refuse to sell land to the government to build schools. Yet, despite the alleged lack of land for Palestinian schools, the Israeli government has found enough land to house more than 200,000 settlers illegally residing in Occupied East Jerusalem and settler children do not suffer from a lack of educational resources. 

 

 

 

Number of Schools

Number

 of Students

Percentage of Total Student Population

 

Comment

 

Waqf Schools

 

28[5]

 

8,889

 

13.8%

Approximately 52% of teachers and 22% of students hold West Bank IDS. Operated in coordination with Palestinian Authority.

Private

34

12,819

20%

Estimated 20% of teachers and students hold West Bank IDs. Operated by private or religious organizations, including some operated independently by the Waqf (Muslim Endowment).

UNRWA

7

3,446

5.3%

 

 

 

 

Estimated Percentage of Total Student Population

Estimated Number of  Faculty Who Must  Cross Checkpoints

Estimated Percentage of Total Full-Time Faculty Population

Bethlehem University

27%

40

17.5%

Bir Zeit University

7.1%

85

25%

Al Quds University (all campuses)

 

40%[6]

 

Being Researched

 

Being Researched

 
 

II.       Wall Impact on Education Sector

 

Israel’s Wall, deemed illegal by the International Court of Justice in July 2004, is intended to act as a political border dividing Jerusalem from the rest of Occupied Palestinian Territory. The Wall will separate 55,000 Palestinian Jerusalemites (who presently live within Israel’s declared municipal border) from the heart of the city, severing them from critical services, including education. An additional estimated 60,000 Palestinian Jerusalem residents reside beyond the Wall outside Israel’s declared municipal borders.  The impacts on education include:  

 

A.          Migration Into Jerusalem

 

Jerusalem ID holders located beyond the Wall risk having their Jerusalem residency revoked for lack of "adequate links" to the city.  Due to the impending threat, Palestinian families have been forced to uproot and relocate to Jerusalem within the Wall in order to safeguard their Jerusalem residency. The influx, which is expected to bring thousands of new students, will add further pressure on East Jerusalem schools, including the Israeli municipal school system, which has already exhibited hostile neglect of the non-Jewish student population.

 
 

The Wall blocks free access to schools on both sides of the Wall. While Israel argues that students and teachers will still be able to pass through checkpoints, the impracticality and added burdens of traversing checkpoints will eventually cause Palestinians to seek alternatives to crossing the Wall, ultimately playing into the Israeli strategy of dividing populations and destroying the area as an integrated whole. Crossing checkpoints entail:

 

 

 

 

 

Teachers holding West Bank ID cards require permits to access their jobs in Occupied East Jerusalem.  In July 2005, permits were sought from Israeli authorities by the Palestinian Authority on behalf of approximately 375 teachers (including approximately 52% of all teachers in Waqf schools). Despite international pressure, Israel has repeatedly delayed the issuance of the permits under the pretext of needing more information (even demanding a complete list of the subjects taught by each teacher). Weeks after the beginning of the academic year, permits have still not been issued. While Israel continues to claim that it is "working on the matter", the message to teachers is clear – there is no guarantee of regularly accessing jobs in East Jerusalem schools and the ability to earn an income is more secure on the "other" side of the Wall.  Consequently, Israel will succeed in effectively removing these teachers from Jerusalem while arguing that permits were never officially denied.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

III.      The Legal Right to Education

 

Israel's Wall and education policies violate:

 

 

 
Is asked:
 

Is reminded:

 

 Notes

[1]  Does not include kindergartens.

[2]  Twenty-seven new classrooms are currently under construction.

[3]  Interview with Attorney Daniel Seidemann, September 11, 2005.

[4] 2003-2004 Academic Year. Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, Jerusalem Statistical Yearbook No. (6), June 2004 at p. 302.

[5] Some sources cite 33 such schools by counting different campuses of some schools separately.

[6] Al Quds University

[7] Interview with Rami Nasrallah. Palestinian Authority Ministry of Jerusalem Affairs, September 13, 2005.

[8] Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics.

[9] Article 1. http://www.unhchr.ch/html/menu3/b/d_c_educ.htm.  Israel ratified the Convention in 1961.

[10] Article 26.

[11] Article 28. http://www.unhchr.ch/html/menu3/b/k2crc.htm. Israel ratified the Convention in 1991.

[12] Article 13. http://www.unhchr.ch/html/menu3/b/a_cescr.htm. Israel ratified the Covenant in 1992.