The population is burgeoning and with it the need for housing, physical, social and cultural infrastructures, and economic, social and educational needs. Yet very little is known about the characteristics of the Arab population in East Jerusalem – other than that since 1967, its numbers have swelled from 68,000 to nearly 300,000 residents today. Information about the developments in East Jerusalem is incomplete, disorganized, and not always reliable, so that even policymakers, let alone the public, have access to any credible, detailed picture of the Arab neighborhoods in East Jerusalem. In the absence of such basic information, it is difficult to formulate policies or devise strategic plans, action plans, or intervention plans, and it is no less difficult to implement such policies and plans should they be drafted.
JIIS, with its vast experience researching the city, plans to fill the lacuna. A multidisciplinary team – Prof. Yitzhak Reiter (Middle East studies), Dr. Maya Choshen (statistics and demography), Israel Kimhi (geography, land planning and infrastructures), and Lior Lehrs (political science), in cooperation with Arab researchers from East Jerusalem - intends to conduct in-depth research and to build an up-to-date, systematic, organized database that would enable an understanding and analysis of municipal and other processes that take place in East Jerusalem. Each bringing his/her own professional expertise, they will work together to review, identify and describe current trends, covering the gamut of issues that affect this part of the city, as well as reviewing the local history; before concluding the project, they will offer policy-oriented recommendations. The team will work at the city and neighborhood levels, taking in the physical, demographic-social, cultural and economic perspectives – in other words, an all-encompassing approach.
The work will be carried out, over several years, in 21 neighborhoods. The diverse information the team gathers will be written up in booklets – a booklet per neighborhood – to serve as a foundation for the residents and for decision makers regarding East Jerusalem’s advancement and to offer ideas regarding the administration and development of the area that take into account the real needs of the community.
The booklets and data, in Hebrew and Arabic, will be made available to the municipality, the community council, professionals with key roles in various fields (welfare, healthcare, business development, and the like), and the residents themselves.